Rockford, IL

Tactics Used

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

Rockford is a mid-sized city of approximately 153,000 residents, located in northern Illinois’ Winnebago County. Local law enforcement have reported complaints from residents about prostitution activity in the city for several decades. The city has also documented several child sex trafficking cases, and has on multiple occasions recovered minor females when making prostitution sweeps. Rockford has also served as the operating base for a serial rapist targeting women offering prostitution, and law enforcement have investigated cases involving the murder of sex sellers in the city.

To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Rockford Police Department has conducted street-level reverse stings, some in response to community complaints. The Rockford Police Department has conducted periodic reverse stings since at least 1999, and has publicized the names of arrestees since the early 2000s.  In a 2013 study by the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Rockford was ranked second in the state (behind Chicago) in the total number of online postings by sex buyers, and in 2015, a web-based reverse sting was conducted.

The city also instituted an auto seizure ordinance in 2010. In 2015 alone, the Rockford Advocate reported that RPD officers had collected “$14,200 in impound fees from solicitation arrests.” These funds are redirected to “qualifying nonprofits” serving human trafficking victims as designated by the Rockford Human Services Department through the Rockford Human Trafficking Grant Program.

In a recent operation in July 2015, 11 sex buyers were arrested and several had their cars impounded following a RPD/Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office joint sting near the Midtown District.  During the operation, police observed each individual drive to the location officers gave to them, and due to that reason, the vehicles were impounded. Since the vehicles were used to “further an act of prostitution or solicitation of the act,” the minimum impound fee was set at $1,000. In 2018, the Rockford Police Department arrested one prostituted person, but more than a dozen sex buyers were arrested and spent time in jail.

Key Partners

  • Rockford Police Department
  • Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (RAASE)
  • Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE)
  • Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office
  • Rockford Human Services Department

Key Sources

State Illinois
Type City
Population 156596
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