Winston-Salem, NC

Tactics Used

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

Winston-Salem is a city located in North Carolina with a population of roughly 215,000. Many calls for police service are in response to prostitution complaints, and investigations of prostitution and sex trafficking have been pursued by police. For example, in 2011, five people were indicted on charges they forced a Guatemalan woman to work as a prostitute to pay off a $3,000 immigration bond. The woman was forced to work in brothels in Sanford and Winston-Salem, according to court records. In April 2014, police announced the arrest of 30 people in Winston-Salem on sex trafficking charges resulting from an investigation spanning more than four years.  Police launched an investigation in August 2009 into allegations of organized prostitution. State and federal law enforcement also joined the investigation which ended in January 2014, and identified at least five foreign nationals, including one minor, as victims of sex trafficking and who were trafficked at locations in Winston-Salem.  In 2017, the group “No Child Trafficked” put an ad on as a test, in which the model in the ad was made to look like an underage girl. Over two weeks, there were 274 calls in response to the ad.

Among the efforts to combat these problems have been reverse stings, and some of the arrestees have been afforded the option of attending a john school.  In 2003, a shaming effort began when TV 13 broadcast the names and pictures of men and women arrested for prostitution-related crimes.  As described in a 2008 city government document, “City of Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Best Practices Report,” a “Comprehensive Plan to Address Prostitution” had evolved from the John School Initiative, which began in 2002, to a comprehensive plan to address street level prostitution in the city and as a result, the number of partners involved in the project expanded. In 2007, the list of partners involved in the initiative expanded to include the following agencies: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Forsyth County Health Department, Winston-Salem Police Department, Centerpoint, Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, and Center for Community Safety, WSTV-13 and other service providers within the community.

Key Partners

  • Winston-Salem Police Department

Key Sources

State North Carolina
Type City
Population 215348
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