Wyandanch, NY

Tactics Used

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

Wyandanch is a hamlet of approximately 12,000 residents, located within the town of Babylon in Suffolk County, New York. As in the neighboring communities of Copiague and Amityville, prostitution emerged as a formidable problem in the late 1980s. Among the more serious outcomes of the local commercial sex market was the murder of a prostituted woman in 1995 that remains unsolved.

In response to the apparent ineffectiveness of police sweeps that arrested just the women engaged in prostitution, the Suffolk County Police Department turned to addressing consumer-level demand, and launched efforts to arrest and shame sex buyers.  In 1991, over 60 sex buyers were arrested. A community organization, the Wyandanch Civic Association, then initiated a “Dear John Letter” campaign. Using a list provided by police, it sent letters to the homes of 63 men charged with solicitation. The letters arrived at the men’s homes with the words “Patronizing a Prostitute” written in bold red ink on the envelope and a copy of the police report (with the accused man’s name highlighted) inside.

Key Partners

  • Suffolk County Police Department
  • Wyandanch Civic Association
State New York
Type City
Population 10764
Location
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