Ypsilanti Township, MI

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

Ypsilanti Township, a Michigan city of roughly 56,000 residents near Ann Arbor, has identified prostitution as a substantial local problem for decades. Local law enforcement have also linked commercial sex to other serious crimes, including sexual and physical assaults that specifically targeted prostituted and trafficked women.  The Ypsilanti Township Police Department has frequently collaborated with neighboring Ypsilanti Police and the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office on a number of efforts to contain the local commercial sex market and the collateral problems and crimes. Washtenaw County has had a program for individuals wishing to leave prostitution, for example, and assists in demand reduction operations.

In January, 2021, the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office announced the adoption of a policy of full decriminalization of prostitution.  The full effect of that policy remains to be seen, but since that policy states that no sex buyers will be prosecuted within the county, it is possible that no further law enforcement operations will be conducted (e.g., reverse stings) and consequently, none of the tactics addressing arrested sex buyers (e.g., john school, shaming, community services, vehicle seizures).  The following descriptions of demand reduction tactics used in Ypsilanti Township may no longer describe how prostitution and sex trafficking are addresses locally.

Prior to 2021, sex buyers arrested in reverse stings in Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, and greater Washtenaw County have had their mug shots and identifiers posted on the county’s website with the intent that shaming will serve as a deterrent. Arrested sex buyers may have their cars impounded and must pay the county $750 to retrieve them. The fine revenue is used to cover overtime costs for deputies on the undercover sting operations. At times, arrested sex buyers have been sent to a “john school” at which individuals formerly involved in prostitution discuss the hardships and negative outcomes associated with sexual exploitation. Reverse stings usually result in four to eight sex buyer arrests, but have been run intermittently because of logistical and financial challenges.

E.A.S.Y. Prostitution Program

In the mid- to late 2000s, YPD, YTPD and WCSO officers joined forces to establish the Enforcement Against Streetwalkers in Ypsilanti (or E.A.S.Y.) program. The program is a designed as a comprehensive approach to addressing the root causes of prostitution along the Michigan Avenue corridor in the City of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. According to law enforcement, “for years, traditional tactics of simply arresting known prostitutes or those that solicit prostitutes had been ineffective. E.A.S.Y. however, brings together law enforcement, human services, the judicial system and elected officials in an effort to provide the resources needed for someone to remove themselves from a  life of prostitution and ultimately clean up the streets of Ypsilanti Township and the City of Ypsilanti.”  Included in the E.A.S.Y. model are “john stings.”

These street-level reversals employ decoys along major thoroughfares. Individuals who attempt to purchase sex acts from the decoys are arrested, and– if soliciting from a vehicle– may have their car impounded and subject to a retrieval fee. Though major news outlets in the area do not typically carry the names and other identifying information about men and women arrested for prostitution-related offenses, the WCSO publicizes the names and mugshots of individuals arrested for attempting to purchase sex after they have been formally charged.

E.A.S.Y. program officials have suggested that the program’s efforts are driven by community complaints about the negative impact of prostitution on local neighborhoods. Among the concerns raised by local residents, business owners and city officials is an increase in other crimes, such as drug trafficking, robbery, assault, and fraud; devaluation of commercial and residential property in high-stroll areas; and “unsightly and potentially hazardous” paraphernalia (such as used condoms and syringes) in areas where street prostitution is chronic.

John School

In 2011, a representative from the WCSO indicated in an interview with the Ann Arbor News that some arrested sex buyers arrested through the E.A.S.Y. program were required to complete a john school course. It remains unclear which law enforcement entity or service organization was/is responsible for convening said course, or if it is still in operation.


Key Partners

  • Ypsilanti Township Police Department
  • Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ypsilanti Police Department

Key Sources

John School:

Street-Level Reverse Stings and Auto Seizure:

Identity Disclosure:

2021 Decriminalization Policy – Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

  • “Police Beat: Three Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Ann Arbor News, July 31 2008.
  • “Three Women Arrested on Prostitution Charges in Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, June 24 2009.
  • “Two Arrested in Prostitution Sting in Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, November 18 2009.
  • “Five Charged in Ypsilanti Township Prostitution Sting,” Ann Arbor News, December 11 2009.
  • “3 Women Arrested in Undercover Prostitution Sting on East Michigan Avenue, Ypsilanti Police Say,” Ann Arbor News, December 2 2010.
  • “Six Nabbed in Prostitution Sting in Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, May 5 2011.
  • “Prostitution Sting Yields 4 Arrests Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, June 29 2011.
  • “7 Arrested in Prostitution Sting Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, September 1 2011.
  • “Deputies Arrest Woman Suspected of Prostitution in Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, February 17 2012.
  • “Police Arrest Two Women during Prostitution Sting in Ypsilanti Township,” Ann Arbor News, February 23 2012.
  • “14B District Court Seeking Funding to Continue Successful ‘Prostitute Court,'” Ann Arbor News, October 4 2014.

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Michigan
Type City
Population 55635
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