Sedgwick County, KS

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Sedgwick County is located in the U.S. state of Kansas with a population of approximately 524,000 residents, making it the second-most populous county in Kansas. Its county seat is Wichita, the most populous city in the state. The county lies at the junction of Interstate 35 and U.S. Route 54 and has struggled with commercial sex sales along major roadways since at least the early 1980s. The south and north corridors of Broadway Street, formerly known as U.S. Highway 81, are frequently cited by residents and local law enforcement as area with high levels of prostitution activity. While street solicitation has declined since the early 1990s (resulting in 418 related arrests during one two-year span), sex sales continue to occur at street level, and in and around Broadway’s roadside motels. A wide range of problems are known to accompany prostitution in the county, especially with violence. For example, there have been multiple cases of targeted homicide and rape of prostituted women in the county. Additionally, reports of sex buyers and prostituted persons being assaulted and robbed by sex traffickers/pimps have been documented. Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market are child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation. For example, in 2022, a 27-year-old Wichita man was arrested by Wichita Police on numerous sex trafficking and related charges. According to reports, police were conducting a sex trafficking investigation when they discovered an underage female suspected of being a sex trafficking victim at a local hotel. Police placed the underage female into protective custody after discovering her at the hotel. Upon further investigation, police located the alleged sex trafficker and when they went to arrest him, the offender was, “with two children between the ages of 1 and 3.” They were also placed into police protective custody. The sex trafficker was transported to the Sedgwick County Jail and booked for aggravated human trafficking, possession with intent to distribute narcotics, aggravated child endangerment, possession of paraphernalia, criminal possession of a firearm, possession of stolen property, and multiple warrants.

To address issues with the commercial sex market, the Wichita Police Department and the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office have implemented multiple demand reduction tactics. This has included an elaborated aggressive and comprehensive strategy of targeted efforts to identify and apprehend sex buyers. Street-level reverse stings have been utilized for over 20 years in the county, with operations concentrated in Chisholm Park and the Broadway Street areas. Wichita police conduct prostitution operations on a routine basis, using one or more undercover female officers as decoys. As suspects attempt to solicit sex from undercover female officers, they are apprehended by police. Once arrested, male sex buyers have their names and other identifying information posted to either the SCSO and/or WPD official website(s).

From August 2017 through May 2019, law enforcement authorities had conducted 17 sex crimes special assignment operations, with a total of 137 arrests (110 men and 27 women). The most recent was a reverse sting resulting in the arrest of eight sex buyers on May 1, 2019. Participating jointly in the investigation were Wichita Patrol south officers, Patrol west officers, Patrol south and north community response teams, and the Wichita Police Department Vice Unit.

In recent decades, sex trafficking and child sex trafficking–though not new to the area– has become increasingly linked to the city’s illicit commercial sex market. Following a series of high-profile cases involving the sexual exploitation of local children, Wichita police partnered with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office and social workers from Kansas Social and Rehabilitation Services to form the Wichita/Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Child Unit (EMCU). Law enforcement now routinely coordinates operations with similar anti-trafficking agencies, and conducts frequent surveillance checks of internet sites known to be used by those paying to sexually abuse children. In May 2012, one such investigation employed the use of a web-based reverse sting. Detectives posted a decoy advertisement offering commercial sex with a minor. As sex buyers replied to the listing, they were contacted by an undercover female officer posing as a sex trafficked minor. When they solicited sex from the officer and arranged to meet, they were arrested by police. Following the conclusion of the operation, the identities of arrested sex buyers were publicly released.

In 2022, Wichita police worked alongside the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Child Unit, advocates with ICTSOS, and other agencies in a web-based reverse sting that targeted individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. As a result of the multi-agency investigation, Operation Blue Ghost, two people were arrested on suspicion of aggravated human trafficking, one on suspicion of human trafficking, one on suspicion of promoting the sale of sex, and 13 on suspicion of buying sex. In addition to the arrests, four potential victims of human trafficking were able to be connected with social services, and three firearms and two vehicles were seized.

Public education is also a demand reduction tactic that has been implemented in the county. For example, in July 2018, the Kansas Attorney General announced a new awareness campaign in Kansas is aimed at cutting the demand for prostitution as a way to fight human trafficking. The campaign involves state agencies and local advocacy groups teaming up to push the “Demand an End” initiative, a public awareness campaign as a partner to bring attention to those who purchase sex in our communities, especially with minors started by Street Grace. The campaign intends to promote a culture where buying sex is unacceptable. Several organizations in the county have partnered with the Kansas Attorney General’s Office in their efforts to “Demand an End” to commercial sex in the state of Kansas such as the Wichita Crime Commission, Center for Combating Human Trafficking at Wichita State University, and Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County.

Loss of employment is also a consequence of buying sex in the county. For example, in 2021, a 53-year-old volunteer chaplain for the Wichita Police Department and Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office was arrested after he attempted to solicit sex from undercover female officers. According to reports, detectives were investigating an unrelated prostitution case when they discovered the former chaplain’s involvement. In a statement from the WPD’s Deputy Chief of Police, the offender was fired from both volunteer positions as a result of his arrest,

“[The offender], 53, was interviewed by detectives, booked on misdemeanor charges for purchasing unlawful sexual relations and official misconduct. [He] has been terminated from his volunteer assignment with WPD and the Sheriff’s office.”

Arrest records show the official misconduct charge stems from the vehicle [the offender] was using. According to police department policy, chaplains are assigned a vehicle while on duty. Police wouldn’t confirm if [the offender] was using a city vehicle or if he was on duty at the time of his arrest. In addition to his volunteer positions, the offender also led a local church, First Salem Church, but detectives were unable to reach any members of the church to detail what consequences (if any) he would be facing within the congregation, as a result of his arrest.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Loss of Employment, Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Public Education:

Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Kansas
Type County
Population 523824
Comments are closed.