Pomona, CA

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

Pomona is a city of approximately 150,000 residents in Los Angeles County, CA, located in the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been ongoing problems in the city and surrounding areas for decades. For example, street based prostitution along the “Holt Corridor,” (a major thoroughfare in Pomona) is an area where prostitution and sex trafficking activity are known to be significant issues. In response to the pervasive issues surrounding the commercial sex market in the city, the Pomona Police Department set up a hotline where residents can report instances of possible prostitution and sex trafficking activity to the number 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. 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. Child endangerments has also occurred during prostitution events. Police have described cases where men are arrested in the city for trying to buy sex while they have infants and young children in the cars.

In effort to combat the demand for commercial sex in the city, the Pomona Police Department (PDP) has conducted reverse stings since 1976, if not earlier. In 1979, a surge in prostitution and ancillary crimes in the city generated resident complaints to police, wherein police responded by conducting a series of street-level reverse stings targeting sex buyers in order to reduce the demand for commercial sex. According to reports, police arrested eight male sex buyers on the charge of soliciting prostitution within the first week of the operation. In addition, some of the reverse sting operations have been highly productive. For example, in 2016, 43 male sex buyers were arrested for soliciting prostitution as a result of a sex trafficking operation led by the Pomona PD. In May of 2019, according to a written statement by police, 24 male sex buyers were arrested during an overnight prostitution sting in the city, between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. along a portion of the city’s Holt Avenue Corridor known as the “Blade.” 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.

In addition to reverse stings, various demand reduction tactics have been implemented in the city. For example, beginning in 2002, the city proposed, and later passed, three ordinances focused on reducing the demand for commercial sex in the city. In September of 2002, the city voted in favor of permitting the publication of sex buyers’ identities in local newspapers and on large banners hung in the city’s downtown area. For example, Pomona police released the identifies of 12 arrested sex buyers as a result of a reverse sting in 2016. In addition, the city passed SOAP (Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution) Orders, in which areas known for prostitution activity were designated as “Anti-Prostitution Zones.” In 2012, the city passed Ordinance No. 4164, allowing police to seize and impound vehicles used in crimes of soliciting prostitution amongst other nuisance offenses.

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 of 2018 through July of 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 sex trafficking, VICE operations targeting sex traffickers/pimps, sex buyers, 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. Similar operations have been conducted annually. For example, in 2019, 24 sex buyers were arrested and 22 vehicles were impounded; in 2020, 27 male sex buyers were arrested; and in 2021, a single operation resulted in the arrest of 10 male sex buyers.

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. A local law enforcement respondent to the 2022 National Assessment Survey reported that the city has sent arrested sex buyers to a john school since 2016. The respondent also said that Pomona has used males as decoy prostituted persons and arrested female sex buyers at least once.

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

National Assessment Survey and Interviews (2012)

National Assessment Survey (2022)

Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

Vehicle Seizures:

SOAP Orders:

Neighborhood Action:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State California
Type City
Population 148335
Location
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