Arapahoe County, CO

Tactics Used

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

Arapahoe County the third-most populous county in Colorado, with over 640,000 residents.  The county seat is Littleton, and the most populous city is Aurora (with over 365,000 residents). Parts of the county have been well-known outdoor prostitution “strolls.”  Prostitution and associated street crime and blight have been concentrated on Colfax Avenue, which runs through both Aurora and Denver.  At the extreme end of the scale, several serial killers specifically targeting prostituted women have operated in the city from the 1970s through 1990s.  Other prostitution-related homicides include a john who was killed by police when resisting arrest during a sting operation.

Among the efforts to address problems associated with the local commercial sex market have been efforts to combat demand.  Reverse stings have been conducted since at least 1988, many of them joint operations with the Denver and Aurora Police Departments, and most focusing on street-level prostitution.

Web-based reverse stings have occurred since at least 2016, especially focused on apprehending those seeking to buy sex with children.  For example, in June 2016, Aurora police arrested seven men during a web-based undercover child prostitution sting.  Each man was arrested on suspicion of soliciting for child prostitution and for criminal attempt to commit patronizing a prostituted child, and faced sentences of four to 12 years in prison,  and would be required to register as sex offenders if convicted. The men’s identities were posted on the police department’s Facebook page.  All seven were booked into the Arapahoe County Jail.

Police began publicizing the identities of arrested sex buyers in 1995, by taking out ad space in the weekly Aurora Sentinel.  The city of Aurora sent police officers to San Francisco in 1997 to investigate the feasibility of starting a john school such as the First Offender Prostitution Program, but it was never established (although Denver has had a john school from 1999 to present).  Some men arrested for buying sex have been placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.

Cameras have also been used to gather evidence used to prosecute sex buyers.  For example, in 2012 a news report discussed how Aurora police used cameras on Colfax Avenue to capture evidence of purchasing sex.  In 2017, the body camera of a code enforcement officer in Aurora captured two separate exchanges in which the officer tried to purchase sex from women in prostitution; the man pleaded guilty to one count of soliciting prostitution, a Class 3 misdemeanor, in Arapahoe County court and was sentenced to six months probation and 60 hours of community service in the case.

Key Partners

  • Arapahoe County District Court
  • Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office
  • Aurora Police Department
  • Denver Police Department
  • FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:

Shaming:

Cameras:

Community Service:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

 

State Colorado
Type County
Population 643052
Location
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