Trenton, NJ

Tactics Used

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

Trenton is the capital of the of New Jersey with a population of approximately 85,000. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified by law enforcement as having substantial activity in the city, and residents have complained to police about prostitution in certain neighborhoods.  Among the serious problems stemming from the commercial sex market have been prostitution-related homicides.  The city has seen cases of prostituted women, pimps, and johns being killed; a serial rapist and murderer was arrested in 1996 for killing four prostituted women. In response to such concerns, police have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex.  Since the 1970s, the Trenton Police Department conducted periodic reverse stings and released the identities of those arrested to newspapers that routinely printed the names of men arrested on prostitution charges.  That policy changed abruptly in 1977, after a 42-year-old father of two, overwhelmed by shame, committed suicide. A decade later, news outlets resumed the practice of listing the names.

More recent examples include john operations in August and October 2013, wherein undercover police officers from the TPD posed as prostituted women along South Clinton Avenue and adjacent streets. Although reverse stings in the city have traditionally been led by the Trenton Police Department, the 2013 reversals were undertaken by the Mercer County Special Investigation Unit. The SIU consists of police officers from Trenton, Ewing, Hamilton, and Lawrence, as well as deputies from the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, and detectives from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. As in prior operations, the names and other identifying information about those arrested were released to the public. In November 2003, the MCPO established guidelines prohibiting Trenton Municipal Court prosecutors “from offering plea bargains in all soliciting prostitution cases and direct[ing] them to seek a revocation of the men’s drivers license, a term of community service and attendance at a sexually transmitted disease education” class.

Key Partners

  • Trenton Police Department
  • Mercer County Sheriff’s Office
  • Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office

 

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Shaming:

Shaming:

License Suspension:

  • “Legislation Sought to Take Johns’ Cars”, Trenton Times, October 15 1998.
  • “Council Backs Prostitution Bills”, Trenton Times, November 10 1998.
  • “Senate Passes Tougher Prostitution Law”, Trenton Times, December 11 1998.
  • “New Law Gets Tougher on Prostitutes, Johns”, Trenton Times, January 26 1999.
  • “Bocchini Stiffens on Prostitution”, Trentonian, November 13 2003.
  • “Soliciting Suspects Face ‘Get Tough’ Policy”, Trenton Times, November 13 2003.

Community Service:

  • “Bocchini Stiffens on Prostitution”, Trentonian, November 13 2003.
  • “Soliciting Suspects Face ‘Get Tough’ Policy”, Trenton Times, November 13 2003.

Background on 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 New Jersey
Type City
Population 84899
Location
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