Wyandanch, NY

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

Wyandanch is a hamlet of just under 13,000 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 problems associated with the local commercial sex market, was the murder of a prostituted woman in 1995, which remains unsolved.

In response to the apparent ineffectiveness of police sweeps, that arrested just the women engaged in prostitution, the Suffolk County Police Department began the process of addressing consumer-level demand. This launched efforts to arrest and publicly disclose the identities of 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, they 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 name highlighted) inside.

Key Partners

  • Suffolk County Police Department
  • Wyandanch Civic Association

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

  • “Suffolk Cops Cracking Down on Johns: For First Time, Are Using Women Officers as Decoys”, Newsday, November 16 1988.
  • “15 Charged as ‘Johns'”, Newsday, May 15 1990.
  • https://www.nytimes.com/stung-by-prostitution-town-shames-customers (1991)
  • “53 Arrested in Eight Days; Temptation of Sex Keeps SCPD Busy”, Suffolk Life Newspapers, October 2 2002.

Letters and Neighborhood Action:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State New York
Type City
Population 12990
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