KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new initiative to stop sex trafficking in the historic northeast part of Kansas City, Missouri, encourages residents and business owners to “Report a John,” with John referring to the name given to someone soliciting sex.
“What you have to do is focus on the demand because, without the demand, there is no supply. No one is in the sex trafficking trade if there is not a John,” explained Scott Wagner the director of Northeast Alliance Together (NEAT).
The organization, along with the Jackson County, Missouri, prosecutor’s office, Missouri Attorney General’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and other groups, like Christine’s Place and Relentless Pursuit Outreach and Recovery, are working together on the initiative.
The new strategy debuted last week when a billboard went up at Independence and Cypress avenues.
The billboard says, "This community does not tolerate buying prostitution.”
The billboards and multiple smaller signs posted along Independence Avenue encourage people to call 816-234-5220 to “report [the license plate number of] a John.”
The Jackson County prosecutor’s office will then send a letter to the registered address for that license plate explaining the car has been suspected of soliciting sex. It’s not an accusation or a warrant, simply a warning, according to Wagner.
The new initiative also calls for publishing mugshots of people arrested for soliciting sex on a new website and in the Northeast News printed newspaper.
People found guilty of soliciting prostitution will be offered the chance to attend “John School” through an organization called Veronica’s Voice.
“We do want to enforce, but we also want to help where that help is necessary. There are individuals, who are Johns, who do need some help in getting over what could be an addiction on that side of things,” Wagner explained.
While the initiative targets Johns, it will also offer victims of sex trafficking a pathway to escape by connecting them with Christine’s Place, a new organization designed to help sexually exploited workers transition to a new life.