York, PA

Tactics Used

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

York is a city of approximately 44,000 residents, located in York County in south-central Pennsylvania. To curtail commercial sex sales in the city, the York City Police Department uses patrol officers to conduct anti-prostitution investigations – both reverse stings targeting johns, and stings targeting prostituted women.  The Chief of Police says the teams have been very successful at running prostitution details, and that giving patrol officers the freedom to investigate crimes like prostitution takes the burden off of detectives and allows officers to develop critical investigative and undercover skills.

While YCPD street-level reverse stings have proven quite successful (at times netting 10 johns in a single operation), officers recently diversified their efforts to include web stings. In October 2012, police placed a decoy listing advertising sex to Backpage.com. When johns replied to the advertisement and arranged to meet with an undercover officer at a local hotel, they were apprehended by police. Although city law enforcement reserves the right to disclose the identities of arrested sex buyers (and may do so on occasion), the names of the men involved were not made public.

In the third annual Report on Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Pennsylvania by Villanova University’s Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE Institute), in was reported that eight people were arrested and charged with violations of the state’s sex buying statute (§ 5902(e)) between the time since the state criminal code created separate offenses for buying and selling sex in 2014 through 2017.

Key Partners

  • York City Police Department


Key Sources

State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 40226
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