Rocky Mount, NC

Tactics Used

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

Rocky Mount is a city of approximately 57,000 residents, located roughly equidistant between Raleigh and Greenville near Wilson in Edgecombe and Nash Counties, North Carolina. Local residents and law enforcement have reported problems with prostitution in the city for over two decades. Rocky Mount has also served as the operating base for at least one serial killer targeting prostitutes; between 2003 and 2009, ten individuals— all African-American and with a history of drug abuse and suspected prostitution — were murdered and dumped along rural roads just outside of the city. When asked by the Rocky Mount Telegram about the case in 2009, a representative from the Rocky Mount Police Department commented:

“A prostitute is an easy victim of crime, and the practice certainly can end up leading to a very violent crime… it’s not easy to investigate because most crimes against a prostitute, even very violent crimes like assault and rape, go unreported.” 

To combat the underlying demand driving the city’s commercial sex market, the RMPD has conducted reverse sting operations since at least 2002. Operations are often conducted at street level, and employ one or more undercover female officers as decoys. Following their arrests, johns have at times had their identities released to local media outlets. When asked about impetus for the operations, the RMPD has stated:

“Johns typically have more to lose… They don’t want to be caught and have their name put out there. And it’s a matter of simple economics. If you take away demand, you eliminate the problem.”

Key Partners

  • Rocky Mount Police Department
  • Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office

Key Sources

State North Carolina
Type City
Population 57477
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