Rochester, NY

Tactics Used

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

Rochester is a city of approximately 212,000 residents, located east of Buffalo in Monroe County, New York. The city has experienced chronic and well-documented problems related to prostitution and sex trafficking, and has served as the operational base of at least two serial killers who specifically targeted women selling sex.

To address the issue, the Rochester Police Department has adopted several tactics that target underlying demand for commercial sex. The RPD began arresting johns in reverse stings in 1988, if not before.  That same year, the city established a john school-type of program, making it among the first cities in the country to do so and preceding San Francisco‘s First Offender Prostitution Program (FOPP) by close to seven years. While Rochester’s program preceded the FOPP, however, it appears to have been short lived while the latter still operates and went on to be replicated or adapted in over 100 cities on three continents.

Community residents have also mobilized to identify and deter sex buyers. The Lyell Avenue Area 230 Group, for example, has coordinated with police to arrest johns on at least two occasions. In both instances, residents reportedly complained to police and provided tips about prostitution activity occurring in the area. In addition, the group operates a “Dear John” website that is updated periodically with pictures of individuals arrested for attempting purchase sex in Rochester.


Key Partners

Key Sources

State New York
Type City
Population 206759
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