West Sacramento, CA

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

West Sacramento is a city of approximately 54,000 residents, located just across the Sacramento River from the city of Sacramento in Yolo County, CA. The city has struggled with persistent street prostitution in the downtown area for decades. Local residents and law enforcement have also reported other problems related to prostitution, such as the robbery of male sex buyers and repeated harassment and solicitation of female residents from sex buyers in some city neighborhoods. Among the more serious issues associated with the city’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in April 2020, a 35-year-old Sacramento man was arrested for allegedly sex trafficking two female juveniles. According to reports, the investigation was initiated after West Sacramento Police responded to a domestic violence call at a motel on West Capitol Avenue, and discovered that a woman who had recently turned 18 had been sex trafficked by the offender for the past two months. West Sacramento Police Detectives immediately opened an investigation and discovered a second minor victim who lived out of the county. In November 2021, the offender was sentenced to 29 years and 4 months in state prison for sex trafficking a minor, pimping a minor, felon in possession of a firearm, and dissuading a witness. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the offender was required to register as a sex offender for life after his prison sentence was concluded.

Efforts to reduce instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been employed in the city since its official incorporation in 1987. Since 1987, the West Sacramento Police Department has been conducting street-level reverse sting operations. These early operations were often large in scale, and utilized both male and female decoys to arrest prostituted women and male sex buyers simultaneously. One initiative, undertaken in late December 1988, resulted in the arrest of over 200 individuals for prostitution-related offenses. To deter other would-be sex buyers, West Sacramento police have frequently released the names and identities of arrested male sex buyers to the media. Arrest information may be distributed in a WSPD press release, and/or publicized in local newspapers. To maximize resources, the West Sacramento Police Department has at times coordinated with members of the Sacramento Police Department, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, and the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office. The departments have at times traded undercover officers to avoid recognition in sting operations. In 1996, the WSPD, SPD, and SCSD announced they would begin sharing surveillance equipment for anti-prostitution investigations.

The WSPD has also conducted at least one web-based reverse sting operation, targeting individuals seeking to engage in commercial sex online. For example, in February 2014, the West Sacramento Police Department conducted a web-based operation in that resulted in the arrest of at least three male sex buyers. Their names and identities were included in reports by local media outlets.

In addition to reverse sting operations, various other demand-reduction tactics have been employed in the county, such as neighborhood action. There have been at least two neighborhood groups in the county that have been active in anti-demand efforts: Operation A.C.T. (A Clean Town) and S.T.O.P. (Sick & Tired of Prostitution). For example, in 1984, members of S.T.O.P attempted to have a judge and convicted sex buyer resign from his position. Although he retained judgeship, the sex buyer was required to pay a fine and complete informal probation, in addition to being told to stay away from two downtown areas known for high rates of prostitution, not to pick up hitchhikers, and not to rent motel rooms under an assumed name.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Cameras, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Neighborhood Action:

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 California
Type City
Population 53637
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