Rohnert Park, CA

Tactics Used

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

Rohnert Park is a city of about 41,000 residents in Sonoma County, California, situated between Santa Rosa and Petaluma.  Prostitution and related sex trafficking and violence are well documented in the city and other areas of the county.  For example, in  February 2014,  a pimp allegedly shot at another male in a local motel parking lot, shattering a vehicle window and missing the victim.  In 2006, Rohnert Park police detectives conducting a prostitution sting arrested one woman and, after a dangerous high-speed car chase into Cotati, arrested her pimp. Upon seeing police enter the hotel parking lot, the pimp sped off and during the chase tried to ram a police car, and later collided with another vehicle.

Child sex trafficking is also well documented in the area.  For example, in 2014, a multi-agency sting operation resulted in 19 arrests, including two Santa Rosa men suspected of making arrangements to buy sex with what they thought was a 13-year-old girl.  Police describe the size of the commercial sex and sex trafficking market as “overwhelming,” and provided as an example the 1,800 page views a decoy advertisement received that police has posted on a website devoted to massage and escort ads filled with explicit photos.

Among the tactics used to combat commercial sex in the city are those focusing on consumer-level demand.  For example, in an operation in February, 2014, police said there was a point when it appeared there might not be enough law enforcement personnel on hand to deal with the surge of would-be customers converging on a Rohnert Park motel to meet with a fictional prostituted woman.  Within a few hours, 11 men were in custody, including one suspected of arriving to have sex with the decoy’s 13-year-old “sister.” The multi-agency sting included officers from Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Rohnert Park police, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Homeland Security.  There was local concern about the escalating trade in sex in a region once seen as secondary to larger metropolitan areas. Investigators said they’ve seen the Santa Rosa/Rohnert Park area become part of an established circuit through which girls and women from Richmond, Oakland, Sacramento and even Las Vegas circulate.

Five sex buyers were arrested in Rohnert Park in April 2014 for suspected solicitation of prostitution, a misdemeanor, after responding to online ads posted by undercover detectives posing as prostitutes.  Officers from the Sonoma County Human Trafficking Task Force, the FBI, a variety of social welfare groups and representatives from 18 other law enforcement agencies from around the Bay Area, including the Department of Homeland Security, participated in the operation that also occurred in Santa Rosa and Petaluma.  The effort was a response to the growing availability and demand for commercial sex in the vicinity of the Graton Resort and Casino, which opened in November 2013.  Some commercial sex providers mentioned the proximity to the casino in their advertisements.  The FBI’s Innocence Lost Program joined the Sonoma County task force in launching the operation. Both are heavily focused on preventing children from being trafficked. The task force includes the District Attorney’s Office, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Petaluma police departments.

 

Key Partners

  • FBI’s Innocence Lost Program
  • Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office
  • Santa Rosa Police Department
  • Rohnert Park Police Department
  • Petaluma Police Department
  • Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office

Key Sources

State California
Type City
Population 41242
Location
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