San Bernardino, CA

Tactics Used

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

San Bernardino is a city of approximately 200,000 residents, located in the Riverside-San Bernardino metropolitan area of California. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified as substantial problems (including the homicide of prostituted women) in the city and surrounding area. In an effort to combat consumer-level demand for commercial sex, the San Bernardino Police Department has been conducting stings since 1981, and web-based reverse stings since 2008.

While police have released the identities of those arrested for soliciting as part of routine crime reporting for years, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office announced in January 2013 a new policy specifically designed to shame those who attempt to solicit sex.  The initiative, dubbed the “Stop the John Project,” began full implementation in April 2013, when the District Attorney’s Office posted its first photograph of a convicted john.  The man had been arrested in September 2012 and convicted in February 2013.  He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, a $275 fine, HIV testing through the San Bernardino County Health Department, was ordered to complete a HIV education program (McMillan, 2013).  He was ordered to return to court on March 20 to learn his HIV test results.  In February 2014, the photos of five arrested sex buyers were posted on the Stop the John webpage.

The Stop-the-John Project will continue throughout the county as long as there is a demand for sex-workers, according to news reports. “The biggest impact we can make on the johns that solicit prostitutes is to shame them publicly,” said San Bernardino County District Attorney, Michael Ramos. “This is the deterrent.”  The District Attorney’s Office will release the names and photographs of any man or woman convicted of solicitation in San Bernardino County, Ramos said.  “The message is simple,” Ramos said, “This is the wrong county to solicit sex in.”  A database listing those convicted can be viewed at the District Attorney’s web page here.

“We really have to attack the front end of this problem in human trafficking.  We’re doing a great job on the suppression side, putting these traffickers in prison. We are now changing the way we look at the young girls as victims. But really to stop the problem is the demand side of it. How do we hold these people responsible and stop it from happening in the first place?”

Michael Ramos, San Bernardino County District Attorney, April 3 2013

Source:  “San Bernardino Puts Mugshots of Prostitution ‘Johns’ on Website”, ABC/KABC-TV 7, April 3 2013.

In September 2020 the San Bernardino Police Department arrested 13 people in an undercover reverse sting operation. According to law enforcement, seven were arrested for solicitation of prostitution while the other six were indicted for loitering with the intent to commit prostitution. In addition to being arrested, three vehicles were impounded. The San Bernardino Police Department also urge the community to continue to be diligent about reporting any concerns or activities that could be related to human trafficking.

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State California
Type City
Population 199285
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