Syracuse, NY

Tactics Used

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

Syracuse is a city of approximately 170,000 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 forced prostitution of both minors and adults, and multiple cases of targeted rape and murder of prostituted women. Johns have also been killed in the city during prostitution transactions.

To address the issue, the Syracuse Police Department has developed a strategy that include 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 are now 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 reserves 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 johns attempting to solicit sex online. Detectives posted listings to sites known to be used for prostitution (like and, and intercepted johns as they replied. A total of 20 men were arrested. To discourage the men from reoffending in the future, police released all of the johns’ 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 will provide critical documentation for police as they work 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.” 


Key Sources

State New York
Type City
Population 139079
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