How NCOSE’s Law Enforcement Training Aims to Create Accountability for Sex Buyers

We’d like to introduce you to an important class of criminals. 

Thousands of them engage in this criminal activity each day. 

They seek to engage in it from their offices, homes, while on business trips, or even from the convenience of their cell phones.

It doesn’t matter much whether they live in big cities, small towns, or rural communities, how much education they have, or their political ideology.  

These are the people responsible for incalculable amounts of harm and for fueling the global criminal enterprises that use and exploit the vulnerable among us. 

We’d like you to meet the male sex buyer—a class of men who buy people for sex and who are ultimately responsible for the commercial sex trade and the sex trafficking necessary to sustain it.

Not all men buy sex, but those who do are responsible for creating vast quantities of physical and psychological trauma among those they purchase for sex. Yet, few sex buyers are ever held accountable for their actions. 

This is why the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) has made the strategic decision to focus a significant amount of its energy and resources on stopping sex buying: to create accountability and to stop the engine on which sexual exploitation runs.

It’s a simple equation: no buyers = no business. 

NCOSE’s New ELEET Initiative: Equipping Law Enforcement to End Trafficking

One of the major ways NCOSE is doing this is through our law enforcement training initiative, which includes a course on how to reduce sex buying behavior in your communities. 

Law enforcement has one mission: to enhance public safety. An important part of keeping the public safe is creating accountability for those who break laws and create individual and community harm. But tragically not all criminals get the attention from law enforcement that they deserve. Sex buyers are a primary example of this as evidenced by a study which found that only 6% of sex buyers report ever being arrested!

Arresting sex buyers is a powerful deterrent that creates accountability and results in fewer individuals being exploited and falling prey to sex traffickers who line their pockets with the money provided by sex buyers. Research demonstrates that fear of arrest and other tactics deployed by law enforcement are effective means of deterring sex buyers. 

While a wide range of efforts to deter sex buyers, or to “reduce the demand,” have been carried out by thousands of cities and counties across the country, such efforts are often conducted on an ad hoc basis and rank low on the list of other law enforcement priorities. 

This, in part, is due to a failure to understand the severe harms to individuals and communities caused by sex buyers. For instance, we know that sex buyers inflict serious psychological and physical harm on those they buy for sex (see our “Why Sex Buyers Must be Stopped and How to Do It” document). Additionally, survey data from more than 10,000 men and 3,000 women across six countries showed that sex buying was strongly associated with non-partner rape and using physical violence against female partners. In neighborhoods where street prostitution occurs, roving sex buyers are known to sexually harass and solicit neighborhood women and children.

The point is this: sex buying is not a benign, harmless activity. It’s a crime of sexual violence linked to other harmful and criminal behaviors.   

Thus, to make a major impact on ending sexual exploitation and other crimes linked to sex buying, sustained and focused efforts to combat sex buying are required.

It’s also often not recognized that law enforcement efforts to combat demand can not only be cost neutral, but revenue-producing and thereby offsetting law enforcement expenditures and producing revenue for survivor services. For instance, a major study of a sex buyer offender program in San Francisco found that fees paid by the offenders between 1995-2007 exceeded $3.1 million and covered all direct costs of the education program, all administrative costs of the program, 88% of the police department’s costs for processing arrestees, and generated nearly $1 million that supported programs for survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking. 

Further, many training programs for law enforcement and prosecutors related to sexual exploitation issues are currently designed to help them understand the signs of human trafficking broadly speaking. Some training rightly helps law enforcement understand the context and harm experienced by prostituted and sex trafficked individuals and provides concrete ways law enforcement can help survivors get access to services. However, emphasis on deterring sex buying is minimal or sometimes entirely lacking. 

But NCOSE knows that to be effective, law enforcement efforts to help victims must be coupled with activities aimed at actually ending sex trafficking by eliminating sex buying. This is the only way to stop the revolving door of sexual victimization created by sex buyers from spinning on forever and ever. This is the only way to cut off the on ramps to perpetual sexual exploitation. 

This is where the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s comes in.

Our Equipping Law Enforcement to End Trafficking (ELEET) Initiative includes a session which is designed to equip and empower law enforcement to combat sex buying. This section of the ELEET training shares the latest hard data on sex buyers and how sex buyers contribute to other crimes, reviews a 15-point typology of demand reduction tactics used by law enforcement, highlights current efforts across the country to combat sex buying, and helps law enforcement overcome challenges in carrying out enforcement activities. 

The training is facilitated by a top-notch team of core facilitators including NCOSE’s Dr. Stephany Powell who has 30+ years experience in law enforcement and deep expertise in survivor services and Dr. Michael Shively who is the nation’s foremost expert on methodologies used to combat sex buying. 

Available in half-day, one-day, and two-day formats, the ELEET program is versatile enough to meet a diverse range of law enforcement training needs. 

By providing carefully crafted workshops—including the one focused on Demand/Sex Buying—which provide a protective and interactive atmosphere for safe expression, while helping law enforcement to learn the importance of combining victim identification activities with efforts aimed at holding those who exploit them accountable, we can help reduce the trauma suffered, achieve justice for survivors, and prevent further sexual exploitation from occurring. This is how we truly “meet”— and ultimately stop—the demand.

Your Help Needed to End Sex Buying

Now that you’ve been introduced to a key group of criminals who too often float under the radar of law enforcement and policymakers, we hope you will help us create a movement aimed at holding them accountable. 

So how can you help? 

You can tell your local law enforcement officials about NCOSE ( and encourage them to contact us to find out more information on how they can participate in our ELEET Initiative. 

By providing local law enforcement with the necessary education and tools to hold sex buyers accountable, public safety will be enhanced in all our communities while providing hope, justice, and exit strategies for those who are trapped in the web of sexual exploitation. 

Learn More About Combating Sex Buying

To learn more about the importance of combating sex buying check out NCOSE’s Top Issues page on Sex Buying, our website, and our Research Spotlight on demand “Are Men Who Buy Sex Different from Men Who Do Not?

Additionally, it takes just 30 SECONDS to use the action below to email to your local elected officials asking them to adopt policies that increase accountability for sex buyers. NCOSE can support officials with research, customized legislation, and training.

The Numbers


NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.



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