Ypsilanti Township, MI

Tactics Used

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

Ypsilanti Township, a Michigan city of roughly 53,000 residents near Ann Arbor, has identified prostitution as a substantial local problem for several years. Local law enforcement have also linked commercial sex sales to other serious crimes, including sexual and physical assaults that specifically targeted sex sellers.

In their efforts, the Ypsilanti Township Police Department frequently partners with neighboring Ypsilanti Police and the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office on a number of fronts.

In their efforts, the Ypsilanti Police Department has frequently partnered with their peers at the Ypsilanti Township Police Department 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 that arise. Washtenaw County has a program for individuals wishing to leave prostitution, for example, and assists in demand reduction efforts.  Johns arrested in reverse stings in Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, and greater Washtenaw County have their mug shots and identifiers posted on the county’s website with the intent that shaming will serve as a deterrent. Arrested johns 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 selling sex. Reverse stings usually result in four to eight john arrests, but are 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 johns 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

State Michigan
Type City
Population 53362
Location
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