Norristown is a city of approximately 32,000 residents, located about six miles northwest of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented problems in the city. In an effort to reduce prostitution activity in the city, the Norristown Police Department has periodically conducted street-level reverse stings to identify and apprehend sex buyers since at least 1989. For example, the NPD and Pennsylvania State Police conducted a joint operation between the city’s West Main and Knox Streets in November 2012. As johns attempted to solicit sex from one of two undercover female state troopers, they were quickly arrested. The men, who ranged in age from 18 to 76, were charged with patronizing prostitutes, criminal solicitation and disorderly conduct. As per NPD policy, all arrestees had their names and photos posted on the department’s website. In October 2013, police and state troopers collaborated on a second operation, this time intercepting 11 sex buyers. According to NPD reports, the 2012 and 2013 operations were staged along the same street corners and intersections, as certain locations have been determined to be “high prostitution areas” by law enforcement.
In 1998, local media reported that Norrisotwn Police had begun sending “Dear John” letters to the homes of men who were seen speaking to prostituted women or repeatedly driving through areas known for prostitution. At the time, NPD officers recorded the license plate numbers of these suspected johns and then mailed a letter of warning (notifying the reader that the car was seen idling in an area known for commercial sex sales) to the residence of the vehicle’s owner. It is unclear if this tactic is still in practice.
- Reverse Stings and Shaming:
- “Norristown Prostitution Sweep Nets 6 Arrests”, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 12 1989.
- “37 Arrested Seeking Prostitutes”, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 13 2000.
- “News in Brief”, Philadelphia Inquirer, October 10 2000.
- “14 Men Arrested in Norristown Prostitution Sting”, Norristown Times Herald, October 17 2011.
- “Prostitution Sting Nabs 13 ‘Johns'”, Norristown Patch, November 8 2012.
- “11 Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Pottstown Patch, October 16 2013.
- Neighborhood Action:
- Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- Background on Sex Trafficking and Prostitution in the Area:
- “From Red Light to Green Light: Montco Backs Norristown Renewal”, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 7 1990.
- “Two Norristowns: One By Day, One By Night”, Philadelphia Inquirer, July 6 1992.
- https://www.delcotimes.com/news/arrested-in-norristown-in-drug-prostitution-ring (2010)
- https://patch.com/pennsylvania/norristown/norristown-area-prostitution-sentencings (2015)
- https://cseinstitute.org/arrests-in-norristown-prostitution-ring-reveal-possible-trafficking/ (2018)
- https://www.timesherald.com/news/authorities-break-up-norristown-prostitution-ring (2018)