Newport News, VA

Tactics Used

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

Newport News is a mid-sized city situated on a peninsula near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay in the southeastern part of Virginia.  Among the distinguishing features of the area including Newport News, Hampton, and Norfolk are the seaports, shipyards, and military presence (Army, Air Force, and Navy).  Prostitution and sex trafficking are documented local problems, and a serial killer of prostituted women also operated in Newport News at one time.

According to interviews with local police, the first known attempts to combat demand for commercial sex occurred in the mid-1980s, in the form of reverse sting operations, shaming, neighborhood action, and SOAP orders.  Reverse stings have occurred with regularity since 1995, and hundreds of sex buyers have been arrested and their identities disclosed to the media.  The Newport News Police Department posts press releases about reverse stings on its website, which include the names, ages, and communities of residence of the arrested sex buyers.  For example, in February 2015, NNPD officers arrested 22 johns over a two-week period as part of the ninth annual National Day of Johns Arrests. According to media outlets, the initiative involved both web-based investigations and street-level details targeting sex buyers. The names and ages of all of the johns were publicly released following their arrests. In June 2018, a street level prostitution operation focused on the South district of the city and targeted both prostituted women and their solicitors, and produced 14 arrests, the majority of the arrests were made in the South district. In such efforts, the NNPD sometimes collaborates on reverse stings with police in the neighboring city of Hampton.

A john school program was launched in 2011, and since then the NNPD has been referring qualified arrestees to the program.  The john school concept was recommended by neighborhood advocates and people within the NNPD, and was developed by the Center for Child and Family Services, the NNPD, and the Newport News Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Community Corrections Division.  The john school is structured as a 12-hour counseling program occurring across eight weekly sessions, rather than the more common one-day class of four to eight hours. Additional details about the program are available HERE.  The program is located at the Center for Child and Family Services in Hampton.

Key Partners

  • Newport News Police Department
    •  Community Response Team and Organized Crime Division
  • Newport News Community Corrections Division
  • Newport News Commonwealth Attorney’s Office
  • Hampton Police Department
  • Center for Child & Family Services (Hampton, VA)
  • Ivy Farms Crime Watch Group

Key Sources

State Virginia
Type City
Population 179153
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