Dayton police and city leadership hope that public shaming using 21st Century methods will make men think twice before attempting to buy sex in the city.
The city’s “Buyer’s Remorse” campaign officially went live this month, and the city has started publishing online the names and other identifying information of men convicted of prostitution-related crimes.
Police this month published 11 names of men convicted of recent prostitution-related crimes in Dayton, which included a registered sex offender and a former Hamilton police officer.
EARLIER: Convicted of buying sex? Dayton will tell your neighbors via Facebook.
The program uses targeted ads to alert people on Facebook that someone in their community was busted for illegal commercial sex activities. Many men who purchase sex in Dayton live outside the city.
“I think it brings more accountability to the men, because they can’t just hide behind a veil of anonymity just because they don’t live in our community,” said Dayton police Major Brian Johns, commander of investigations and administrative services.
Public exposure is one of the most effective ways to deter men from attempting to buy sex, police officials say.
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On Tuesday, the Buyer Remorse’s website was updated to display a map and list showing 11 names of men who were arrested and convicted of prostitution-related crimes in Dayton.
The map shows where the men live, the date they were convicted and what crimes they committed. Buyer’s remorse will focus on three misdemeanor offenses: soliciting, loitering to engage in solicitation and prostitution.
Of the 11 men on the site, five were from Dayton. The others live in Beavercreek, Centerville, Fairborn, New Carlisle, Riverside and West Carrollton.
One of the men listed on the site, Fairborn resident Jame Calhoun, is a former Hamilton police officer, according to a Dayton police report. This newspaper contacted the Hamilton Police Department to speak to Calhoun, but was told he has retired.
The Dayton Police Department for years published the names of people caught in the act of buying sex in local news publications and on the city’s website.
Johns is the nickname for men who pick up prostitutes.
The city has hired Dayton web design and digital agency Catapult Creative to send targeted ads to adults who live near people convicted of prostitution-related offenses. The ads will appear as sponsored posts on Facebook users’ news feeds and will include a link to the Buyer’s Remorse website.
“They may not care if they are from Indiana or Colorado and while here on business get arrested and their name is in the Dayton Daily News,” said police Major Johns. “But when it goes back to your home zip code, no matter where you’re at, your neighbors are going to know.”
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Many men from outside the community come into the city to purchase sex, which makes the city and women who live here less safe, said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley in a video on the Buyer’s Remorse website.
The Facebook ads will let people’s friends, family members, spouses and colleagues will know that they purchased sex in the city of Dayton, Whaley said.
The type of people prostitution brings to Dayton is alarming, because some have violent criminal histories and have included some Tier 1 sex offenders who cruise local neighborhoods looking for sex, Johns said.
One of the men listed on the Buyer’s Remorse website is a registered sex offender. At least two others have previous arrests for violent felony crimes.
Johns, some with serious and troubling criminal records, sometimes harass and follow innocent women and girls who are just around outside, Johns said.
“The big complaint we’d get in patrol is, ‘My daughter was going down to the United Dairy Farmers, and a guy kept circling and honking at her, to try to get her into his car,’” Johns said.
The Buyer’s Remorse program is another example of how law enforcement’s mindset and focus has changed when it comes to prostitution.
Police in the past focused on arresting prostitutes. But officials say that was not resulting in less of the unwanted activity.
But law enforcement’s focus shifted from the sex sellers to the buyers for some moral and compassionate reasons.
Women who engage in prostitution are victims because it’s not truly a choice since they tend to be addicted to drugs and struggle with untreated trauma, typically stemming from sexual abuse when they were children, Johns said.
Prostitution is not a victim-less crime, and prostitutes need treatment and help escaping tough situations, he said.
Prostitution also is a highly visible criminal activity that makes citizens feel less safe and makes neighborhoods less attractive for investment, officials said.
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