Tucson, AZ

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

Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona, with approximately 540,000 residents. Public officials and city law enforcement have long recognized that combating demand is essential to reducing problems associated with prostitution and sex trafficking.  The Tucson Police Department has conducted street-level reverse stings since 1986, if not earlier. Operations have at times been large in scale, employing several undercover female officers as decoys and netting upwards of 21 sex buyers in a single evening.

Once arrested, sex buyers in Tucson may have their cars seized and impounded (if they were attempting to solicit sex from a vehicle). They may be served with SOAP (or Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution) orders, barring them from reentering areas of the city known for commercial sex sales. As per TPD policy, all arrested sex buyers names will be released to the local media; they may also be posted to the department’s official website.

The Tucson Police Department has also created several programs that aim to engage sex buyers in a meaningful discussion about the consequences of purchasing sex. Between 2004 and 2005, officers developed an innovative and unique variation on the “john school” model, dubbed the “Roadside John School.” The Safety Through Deterrence (STD) program involved a brief presentation and provision of a handout to men suspected of attempting to buy (or loitering with the intent to buy) sex. Once completed, sex buyers would have their photos taken by police to establish intent or culpability if the men were found to be soliciting or loitering in the future. The STD interventions were used on over 500 men in the first year, and over 200 in the first 5 weeks alone.

Several neighborhood organizations have also adopted or promoted anti-demand tactics in an effort to address problems from prostitution and sex trafficking.  The groups include the Miracle Manor Neighborhood Association, the Balboa Heights Neighborhood Association, and the Oracle Project.

In March 2013, Tucson Police announced they would collaborate with Cactus Counseling Services, CODAC Behavioral Health Services, Tucson City Councilmember Steve Kozachik, and advocate Beth Jacobs on a Project RAISE, a modified “jane school” for women arrested for prostitution.  Although the TPD would continue to conduct “jane” sweeps, Project RAISE would assist in the triage and processing of arrests, and offer a diversion program for prostituted women who qualify. When asked about the impetus for the initiative, representatives from Project RAISE stated that they were driven by the increasing prevalence of minors and other trafficking victims recovered during local prostitution sweeps.

Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred in the city.  For example, in December, 2016, a Tucson police officer caught in an investigation of a prostitution ring surrendered his certification to serve as an officer in Arizona. The board that oversees police certifications accepted a consent agreement with the man, who was one of eight police employees who was fired or resigned after an investigation revealed they were customers of – or had knowledge of – illegal massage parlors serving as brothels.  Documents from the board said that the man acknowledged he used “these services, knowing they offered sex acts in exchange for additional money.”

Key Partners

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey, Interviews, and Site Visit

John School and Counseling Program:

Reverse Stings:

Web Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

Loss of Employment, Identity Disclosure:

Vehicle Seizure:

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 Arizona
Type City
Population 541482
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