Newark, NJ

Tactics Used

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

Newark is the largest city in New Jersey with a population of approximately 280,000.  It serves and the government seat of Essex County. The city has documented problems related to prostitution for several decades (including documented cases of sex trafficking of both adults and minors, and targeted homicides of prostituted and trafficked persons) and generates frequent complaints to police from residents and businesses.

The Newark Police Department has conducted street-level reverse stings since at least 1990, if not earlier. The identities of arrested sex buyers, as well as those of individuals arrested for selling sex, are posted on the NPD’s website. Since 2007, NPD officers have seized the cars and performed a background check on those arrested while soliciting from a vehicle.

Among their relatively recent efforts, NPD officers staged three street-level stings targeting johns in February and March 2016. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, officers intercepted 26 attempted sex buyers after the men solicited “police officers posing as prostitutes” in three separate reversals. Arrestees had their cars seized and towed, and their identities released to the public. At least two of the three investigations were prompted by complaints from local residents of prostitution in the area where the stings were staged, Star-Ledger staff reported. When asked about the operations in February, a NPD representative told the press:

“This type behavior won’t be tolerated. [We] will continue to respond to such complaints and target the types of activities that denigrate the quality of life in our communities.”  

In May, 2019, more than a dozen men were arrested in a reverse sting in response to neighbors complaining about the activity on Sherman Avenue between Clifton Street and East Bigelow Avenue, in the South Ward area of Newark. In April, 2021, 10 sex buyers were arrested in this same South Ward area, and their mug shots and other identifiers were included in press releases.


Key Partners

  • Newark Police Department

Key Sources

State New Jersey
Type City
Population 281054
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