Richmond, CA

Tactics Used

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

Richmond is a city of approximately 104,000 residents, located in the East Bay portion of the San Francisco Metropolitan Area in Contra Costa County, California. Local law enforcement have reported problems related to prostitution (sex trafficking of minors, targeted sexual assault and murder of prostituted women) in the city, and residents and businesses have complained to police about chronic prostitution in certain neighborhoods.

In response to such concerns, the Richmond Police Department has incorporated tactics targeting demand in their anti-prostitution efforts. RPD officers began conducting street-level reverse stings in 2005, and web-based reverse stings in 2008. Once arrested, johns in Richmond may have their vehicles seized (if they were used for the purposes of solicitation) and may have their driver’s licenses suspended. If convicted, they may be served with SOAP orders that restrict their ability to enter areas of the city known for prostitution. In March 2014, the RPD announced that it would also use its Facebook and Twitter pages to broadcast the identities of arrested sex buyers; in September 2014, the names and arrest photos of 11 johns were posted to the department’s Facebook page following a sting operation.

In Octobe 2018, a prostitution sting on 23rd Street yielded arrests of eight customers, five women, and the rescue of two juvenile girls ages 15 and 17. The operation included a police pursuit that led to a car crash into a retaining wall near an apartment complex at 30th Street and Macdonald Avenue, police said. The pursuit followed an attempted traffic stop where the driver sped off, and during which two 17-year-old suspects were caught after a brief foot chase. A loaded semi automatic pistol was found on one of the juveniles. The operation involved the Richmond Police Department Bravo Unit (foot/bicycle officers), Special Investigations Section detectives, Domestic & Sexual Violence Unit detectives and beat officers.  Police focus on this issue in this area of the city was driven in part by complaints by local residents and merchants over increasing crime including robberies and prostitution along the corridor.

Residents and city officials have also undertaken efforts to address demand prior to the point of arrest, by engaging in public education campaigns and developing neighborhood watch groups. In 2014, Richmond Police reported to members of the local media that had been working with “residents in the area of 23rd Street and lower Ohio Avenue to report the license plate of anyone they suspect is loitering for the purpose of soliciting a prostitute. The owner of the vehicle is then sent a ‘Dear John’ letter that notifies them they were seen loitering in an area known for prostitution.”

 

Key Partners

  • Richmond Police Department
  • Oakland Police Department
  • Hayward Police Department
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey and Interview 

Reverse Stings:

Auto Seizure:

Shaming:

Letters:

Neighborhood Action:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State California
Type City
Population 103701
Location
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