Oneida County, NY

Tactics Used

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

Oneida County is located in upstate New York, and has a population of about 230,000.  Its two largest cities are Utica (the county seat) and Rome. Prostitution, sex trafficking, and associated violent crime are well-documented problems in those cities and in surrounding areas of the county. For example, in 2003 a 16-year-old sex trafficking victim was murdered in Utica. In 2019, a sex buyer in Utica was the victim of an armed robbery, and shot and killed the pimp who attempted the robbery. The man was an off-duty police officer who was not charged with homicide and apparently shot in self defense, but he was charged with the misdemeanor of patronizing a prostitute.

Local law enforcement agencies have conducted at reverse stings targeting johns within the county. For example, in May and June 2011, officers from the UPD’s Special Operations Unit posed as prostituted women in areas of the city “known for high levels of prostitution activity.” As men approached the undercover officers and made an offer of cash for sex, they were arrested by a backup team. All of the individuals’ names, mugshots, and other identifying information were released to the public.  In March, 2014, six men were arrested in an undercover prostitution operation targeting people engaging in patronizing prostitutes, and their identitities included in press releases. In August, 2019, a man and woman were arrested for prostitution at the boat launch in Rome. Officers were dispatched to the boat launch at 4 p.m. in response to a complaint of lewd behavior, and they found the vehicle with a 64-year-old that was later charged with public lewdness and third-degree patronizing a prostitute.  His identity was publicly released.


Key Partners

  • Oneida County District Attorney’s Office
  • Oneida County Jail
  • Utica Police Department
    • Special Operations Unit
  • Utica City Court
    • New York State Police
    • Special Investigation Unit (SIU)

Key Sources

Arrest and Shaming of Sex Buyers:

Street-Level Reverse Stings and Shaming:

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 New York
Type County
Population 231332
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