Pomona, CA

Tactics Used

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

Pomona is a city of approximately 152,000 residents, located in the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles, California. Prostitution, sex trafficking, and related crime have been ongoing problems in the city and surrounding areas of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties for many years. For example, street based prostitution along the “Holt Corridor,” a major thoroughfare in Pomona, is “nationally known” as a place for commercial sex, according to local police. Sex trafficking is also known to be intertwined with prostitution occurring in Pomona (Pomona police ask for tips about human trafficking to be called in to 909-620-2085; those wishing to provide information anonymously can call 1-800-222-TIPS). Enforcement operations are often conducted in response to complaints from residents and business owners.

We do not know when Pomona first began conducting reverse stings, but the city has been committed to conducting them for more than 15 years. Some of the operations have been highly productive; for example, 36 men were arrested in a 10-hour period in one reverse sting in 2007.  In May, 2019, police arrested 24 men during an overnight prostitution sting in Pomona, between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. along a portion of the city’s Holt Avenue Corridor known as the “Blade,” the Pomona Police Department said in a written statement.  During the operation, undercover female police officers posed as prostituted persons, and once a suspect agreed to pay for sex, the undercover officers gave a signal and fellow officers converged to make arrests.  In addition to the 24 arrests, 22 vehicles were impounded during the sting.  Pomona Police Department (PPD) officers report that some reversals have produced as many as 80 arrests in a single operation.

Given the relatively small size of the PPD, other departments have assisted Pomona in the larger reverse stings; e.g., the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Cal Poly Pomona, Montclair, La Palma and Chino Police Departments.  Police have described cases where men are arrested for trying to buy sex while they have infants and young children in the cars.  Police release the names and ages of arrestees to the media, and these are sometimes publicized. Arrested sex buyers may be requried to adhere to Stay-Away orders (SOAP) and may have their vehicles impounded.

Some of the efforts to combat prostitution and sex trafficking have been multi-faceted, focusing on supply and distribution as well as demand.  For example, in May through July, 2018, the Pomona Police Department Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF) along with several work groups within the department focused its efforts on the east Holt Corridor targeting prostitution related activity and quality of life issues in the City of Pomona. The 60 day operation consisted of high visibility patrol, undercover surveillance on high profile targets and hotels engaged in human trafficking, VICE operations targeting pimps, johns, prostitutes, and enforcement of the Stay-Away Order. The conclusion of the operation resulted in 63 arrests and 118 citations, some of which were for purchasing sex. Additional reverse stings along the Holt corridor were conducted in February and March of 2019.

In 2007-2008 the PPD investigated implementing a john school program in the city.  Research was conducted and officers traveled to Fresno to observe the PAR john school (modeled after the FOPP in San Francisco).  The program was viewed favorably, but would have to be modified to work locally.  Budget cutbacks reduced the number of reverse stings conducted by PPD, and the movement toward starting a john school was suspended.

Key Partners

  • Pomona Police Department
  • Cal Poly Pomona Police Department
  • Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
  • Montclair Police Department
  • La Palma Police Department
  • Chino Police Department

Key Sources

State California
Type City
Population 152931
Location
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