Syracuse, NY

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

Syracuse is a city of approximately 146,000 residents, located in Onondaga County in upstate New York. Prostitution and sex trafficking have posed persistent and visible problems in the area for decades. Among the issues reported are several documented cases of sex trafficking of both minors and adults, and multiple cases of targeted rape and murder of prostituted women. Sex buyers have also been killed in the city during prostitution transactions.

To address these and a wide range of other crimes stemming from the local sex trade, the Syracuse Police Department has developed a strategy that included tactics that target underlying demand for commercial sex. Members of city law enforcement were among the first in the nation to implement the use of street-level reverse stings in 1974–operations have been conducted four to six times per year in areas of the city identified by residents and Neighborhood Watch groups as “hotbeds” for prostitution. Since at least October 2000, the SPD reserved the right to seize and impound cars used by sex buyers for the purposes of solicitation.

In early 2011, SPD officers initiated a five-month web sting in an effort to identify and apprehend sex buyers attempting to solicit sex online. Detectives posted listings to sites known to be used for prostitution (like and, and intercepted sex buyers as they replied. A total of 20 men were arrested. To discourage the men from reoffending in the future, police released all of their names and other identifying information to the local media.

In October 2014, members of the press reported that Syracuse Police planned to install 21 surveillance cameras in the city’s Northside neighborhood to deter street crime–including prostitution. In addition to reducing criminal activity, a SPD representative noted that the cameras would provide critical documentation for police as they worked to solve cases. When asked about the increased surveillance, a local pastor commented:

“Our church is on the corner…Outside our door we see prostitution, we see drug activities happen. If we have a big event, the folks come out to solicit and I think the cameras would also help to alleviate some of that.” 

Employment loss is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred in the city.  For example, in September, 2016 Syracuse University dismissed the head of its business school without public explanation and suspended him from faculty job. He had been arrested for patronizing a prostituted woman. The man was removed as dean of Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management. He was also suspended from his role as a faculty member in the business school. The man had been charged with the misdemeanor of patronizing a person for prostitution in Salina, N.Y., a small town near Syracuse. The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office released the news after filed an open records request. The university, which had said nothing about why the man had been removed, then gave a statement to local reporters that it had “confirmed with law enforcement that the alleged behavior did not occur on the Syracuse University campus, did not involve members of the campus community and is unrelated to the former dean’s university responsibilities.”

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Auto Seizure:


Employment Loss:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State New York
Type City
Population 146103
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