New Bedford, MA

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

New Bedford is a city of approximately 95,000 residents, located in southeastern Massachusetts near Fall River. Prostitution is a well-documented problem in the area, spanning more than a century, and has included cases of child sex trafficking.  Problems associated with the local commercial sex market have also included a case of a serial killer that apparently targeted street prostitutes in the city, murdering nine women in the late 1980s.

In an effort to reduce consumer-level demand for commercial sex, the New Bedford Police Department has conducted reverse stings and publicized the identities of the men arrested since at least 1996. Recent operations include a street-level reverse sting in October 2014, wherein officers arrest four men for attempting to solicit sex from a female undercover officer in the Acushnet Avenue area. Following the operation, all of the men’s names, ages, and hometowns were released to the public.

New Bedford city officials have also discussed imposing an auto seizure ordinance for several years. The ordinance would allow law enforcement to seize and impound vehicles used for the purposes of solicitation. As of 2014, it is unclear whether or not the ordinance has been established.

Key Partners

  • New Bedford Police Department

Key Sources


State Massachusetts
Type City
Population 91849
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