Vestavia Hills is a city occupying parts of both Jefferson and Shelby counties, Alabama. It is a suburb of Birmingham and its population is roughly 35,000. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of both Jefferson and Shelby counties. For example, in a 2015 report, local police said the crime is happening everywhere, in every community and every city in the region. A local news station, WIAT 42 News, had ridden along with the Birmingham Police Department’s Vice Narcotics Team as they sent undercover detectives out to arrest prostituted persons and the people who hired them. The then started examining areas outside Birmingham’s city limits and called other police departments, and found out Homewood police have made 29 prostitution arrests since 2011. Vestavia police arrested 14 people for prostitution in 2014, and in the prior month, the Hoover police department had arrested three women in an undercover sting at a hotel. They also noted that websites are filled with ads for escorts from all over the area, including Birmingham, Homewood, Hoover, Vestavia and other areas.
Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. To combat the array of problems stemming from commercial sex, local law enforcement agencies have conducted reverse stings. In February, 2019, Vestavia Hills police and the FBI participated in a reverse sting operation led by the Homewood Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Unit. The operation was conducted in response to complaints received about hotels and motels along the Oxmoor Road and Lakeshore Parkway exits off Interstate 65. The operation involved undercover officers responding to social media and internet adds soliciting sexual activity for payment.
- Vestavia Hills Police Department
- Birmingham Police Department’s Vice Narcotics Team
- Homewood Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Unit
- Hoover Police Department
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- https://www.cbs42.com/cbs-42-investigates/sex-crimes-prostitution-a-growing-concern-jefferson-county/ (2015)
- https://www.wvtm13.com/article/prostitution-sting-in-homewoodal (2019)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: