Oklahoma City, OK

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Cameras
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
Letters
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Oklahoma City is located in central Oklahoma and has a population of approximately 644,000.  Prostitution has been a well-documented problem in Oklahoma City dating back at least to the 1970s, and sex trafficking cases have occurred since at least the 1980s and continue through the present.  Oklahoma City has employed a wide range of tactics to combat the demand for commercial sex, which drives all prostitution and sex trafficking.  These efforts began in the mid-1970s and many have continued through to the present. For example, in March 2018, the Oklahoma City Police Department arrested 35 men during a sting operation aimed at the customers of prostitution. The  “demand suppression” operation took place from March 26 to March 29, and police said that two metro hotels assisted in the operation.  Violence among people involved in prostitution is also well-documented locally, including the homicide of (and committed by) prostituted women.

Oklahoma County (including the city) has been imposing community service on arrested sex buyers (as well as on prostituted women) since 2002. An individual can be sentenced to complete up to 80-hours of community service.  Although not often enforced in recent years, Oklahoma County can impose geographic restrictions on criminal defendants, including arrested sex buyers. The restriction bars the individual from being in any of a dozen areas known for the persistent presence of street level prostitution.  The “john school” education program option was dissolved by 2011, approximately, due to a lack of political support and fees set at a level inadequate for the program to be financially self-sufficient or revenue-positive, as are most john schools. [NOTE: Thanks to Brian Bates of JohnTV for providing information in 2014 about fines, community service, and john school as they applied to sex buyers arrested in the city in the 2008-2013 timeframe, and to a representative of the OKPD who completed the survey for the National Assessment]

As is the case in most cities, Oklahoma City police can either charge with state prostitution offenses and refer misdemeanor-level prostitution cases to district criminal courts, or cite with ordinance violations and refer cases to the city attorney’s office. Historically, local prostitution crimes have been handled by the city – treated mostly as a ticket or civicl violation. Around 2002, the sitting district attorney requested all prostitution crimes to be given to his office (county prosecutors) so they could pursue the defendants in criminal courts. Since that happened, the state reportedly has recouped far less in fines (the average is only $50) than they did when the city prosecuted the cases (fines ranged between $600-$1,200).  Also, when city courts handle the cases, the fine revenue returns to the city which has made the investment in reverse stings that produced the arrests. When cases are handled in the district courts, typically more or all of the fine revenue does not return to the city.

Some arrests of sex buyers are not the result of sting operations using undercover decoys, but instead are the product of investigations or enforcement actions in response to allegations against real victims. In some cases, arrested sex buyers lose their employment, either by resigning or through termination by their employer. For example, in March, 2017, an Oklahoma state senator was arrested for abusing a child in sexual exploitation, and soon afterward resigned from the legislature. The man had faced pressure to step down following his arrest, and the state Senate voted to strip him of most of his power, including his ability to serve on Senate committees and author bills. The Senate also took away his office and perks such as his executive assistant and parking space. The Oklahoma Senate cooperated with authorities, including the FBI and U.S. Secret Service in Oklahoma City who had joined the criminal investigation. The man had been charged in Cleveland County with engaging in child prostitution, transporting a minor for prostitution and engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church. The senator could potentially be eligible to collect his state retirement even if he were convicted, as he was vested in the state’s retirement system after serving six years in the Senate. Oklahoma law allows for the forfeiture of retirement benefits only for certain felony convictions, including bribery, corruption, forgery and perjury.

In October 2000, a man was arrested after he met with a person he believed to be a 15-year-old female with whom he had been corresponding over the Internet, authorities said. The 44 year old was was arrested Wednesday at Quail Springs Mall after he allegedly corresponded via e-mail and chat rooms with an undercover detective. The content of the conversation became sexually explicit, and an arrangement was made for the girl and suspect to meet at the mall. The suspect was  charged with using the Internet to knowingly persuade, induce, entice a minor to engage in prostitution or other sexual activity.

In September, 2021, an Oklahoma City police sergeant was fired after he was arrested for engaging in prostitution and assaulting staff at a local massage parlor. An Oklahoma City Police Department administrative investigation sustained 12 allegations against the officer after he was criminally charged by the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office. The allegations began when police were called to a massage parlor located near SW 59th and South Western Avenue, and the suspect allegedly requested through a text message a sex act in exchange for $120. The women reportedly told the suspect that the request was illegal and that they called police. The man then allegedly went into the business and showed his identification card that had “Police Officer” in bright red letters. The women said the officer then became aggressive with them and pushed them into a wall and attempted to get money out of the cash register. In addition to allegedly requesting illegal paid sex, the officer did not provide his name or badge number when the employees asked him, and the officer also abused his power by claiming he was investigating the business and used police dispatch and records for his personal use. The officer was charged with one count of engaging in prostitution and one count of assault and battery. The police department in September released the termination letter the man received from the Police Chief. The termination letter stated the officer admitted to all of the allegations of misconduct.

Key Partners

  • Oklahoma City Police Department
  • FBI

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey

John School:

Reverse Stings:

Web Stings:

Arrest of Sex Buyers, Disclosure of Identities:

Loss of Employment:

Neighborhood Action:

Auto Seizure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Oklahoma
Type City
Population 547274
Location
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