At their March 1, 2017 meeting, Fulton County Commissioners voted 5-0, with one abstention, to amend the Fulton County Code to give police additional criteria to investigate a suspect for suspicion of soliciting prostitution or participating in human trafficking. The code amendments detail what behaviors can lead to additional police investigation for these crimes including ways to identify those “cruising” for sex. The resolution, co-sponsored by Chairman John H. Eaves and District 2 Commissioner Bob Ellis amends an ordinance that will make it easier to charge individuals who seek to buy sex services.
"The stories I've heard are horrifying and saddening," said Fulton County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Eaves. "Few people realize how many innocent young girls are being forced to sell themselves for sex. Our action today makes it clear that something as simple as loitering can be a red flag that someone is a potential predator and we won't tolerate it."
“In bringing this forward, it was my intent to address the power imbalance that currently exists between those seeking to purchase sexual services and those being exploited to perform the acts,” stated District 2 Commissioner, Bob Ellis. “I believe this is a model ordinance that can be replicated across the Metro Atlanta area, and I will be reaching out to other jurisdictions to ask them to join Fulton County in the effort to end commercial sexual exploitation.”
In areas that are known to authorities for frequent prostitution arrests, officers would be given additional latitude to investigate a loitering suspect who engages in several suspicious behaviors including repeatedly circling the block in a car, stopping a motor vehicle in a county road to beckon to or engage with others on the side of the road, repeatedly stopping or attempting to stop drivers by hailing them down, and remaining in a vehicle in parking lot or vacant area for extended periods of time. The Fulton County Police Department worked with the nonprofit group YouthSpark to develop the ordinance amendments, which recognize that the most effective way to address sexual trafficking is to more effectively prosecute people seeking to purchase sex.
“This local legislation is a necessary step to curtail sex trafficking,” says Fulton County Police Chief Gary Stiles. “For much too long the "customers" of this ugly business have been able to avoid being charged with a crime as they cruise areas for purposes of paying strangers for sex acts.”
“We are proud of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners for recognizing that the illegal sex trade is driven by "buyers" whose actions exploit others, particularly vulnerable young people,” said Dr. Alex Trouteaud, Executive Director of youthSpark. “We hope other counties and cities across metro Atlanta will consider adopting similar approaches to Fulton County in their anti-trafficking ordinances. No buyers, no business...no trafficking.”On October 7, 2015, the Board of Commissioners, led by Chairman John Eaves and Commissioner Bob Ellis, unanimously adopted a resolution creating and establishing the Fulton County Commercial Sexual Exploitation Prevention Coalition, a multidisciplinary coalition to prevent commercial sexual exploitation. That coalition brings together individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including law enforcement, criminal justice, nonprofit, and civic organizations, committed to ending sexual exploitation within Fulton County.