Sex Work and Trafficking Policy Impact Committee - July 24, 2017 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
July 24, 2017 - 11:00am
25 Van Ness Avenue
Suite 240
San Francisco, CA 94102

Attendees: Minouche Kandel, Department on the Status of Women; Alia Whitney-Johnson, Freedom Fwd; Stephany Ashley, St James’ Infirmary; Aria Said, St James’ Infirmary; Saerom Choi, APILO; Rachel Cairati, Department on the Status of Women; Corey Smith, Department on the Status of Women; Sarah Chen Small, Department on the Status of Women; Dee Michel, St James’ Infirmary; Pratima Gupta, St James’ Infirmary; Gena Castro Rodriguez, DA Victim Services; Alix Lutnick, RTI International; Carol Leigh, BAYSWAN; Tony Flores, SFPD



  1. Introduction/Check In


  1. Prioritizing Safety for Sex Workers Policy Bulletin

The Policy was assumed to be in its final stages before Police Chief Scott objected to the clause on violence and harassment committed by officers towards sex workers. Aria Said provided a summary of the most recent police commission meeting, in which sex worker advocates provided public comment. The commission discussed the presence of Patrol Special Officers, non-sworn private patrol officers for hire by private parties. The Police Commission appoints Patrol Special Officers and has oversight responsibility of the program. When the commission opened the floor for public comment, sex worker advocates discussed the policy bulletin and their concern over the unwillingness to include the clause on police harassment. For the most part it appeared commissioners were not very aware of the development of the policy or the ensuing issue. The commission made follow up comments for Chief Scott and requested that he provide a response and update at a later date. Chief Scott agreed to meet with advocates. Due to the requirement for all discussion items to be on the agenda, the commission could not engage in discussion with public comment, but the Committee could request to have the policy on the agenda for a future commission meeting. Advocates will meet with Chief Scott at an agreed upon date, with Gena Castro Rodriguez representing the SFDA and discussing their own adoption of similar policy. It was agreed that the policy is best described as a “sanctuary policy” as opposed to an “immunity policy,” which falsely implies wrongdoing. Department of Police Accountability (previously the Department of Citizen Complaint) is in conversation with us.


  1. SFPD Data

Alix Lutnick provided an update on her work to catalogue and analyze SFPD data. There is a database built and 200 of 900 reports have been coded and entered and therefore findings are very preliminary. Over the years representatives from SVU have said they are not arresting sex workers, but the data shows sting operations with undercover SVU officers arresting people for selling sex. Often these stings are looking for underage sex trafficking. It is troubling that officers may be luring underage youth to hotels or other locations and arresting suspected minors in sex work. This process is not trauma informed. Sex workers are often cited for solicitation (647) but not charged. Street level stings are often based on neighborhood complaints.

The committee discussed concerns that the Department of Public Health’s massage parlor inspections, sometimes described as “Mayor’s Task Force” inspections, appear to be raids with a dozen or more inspectors rushing in, including police and fire. Workers with environmental citations can do several hour educational programs (free) while owners are fined. However, anecdotally owners may be redirecting fines to employees. The main concern is that adult sex workers are being heavily policed due to the presence of human trafficking inspections. Many inspections are generated by neighborhood complaints of massage establishments. The committee discussed the need to train Special Patrol Officers in human trafficking, sex work, and trauma issues as they do not receive SFPD training.


Bad Date App: Stephany Ashley provided an update on the Bad Date App, which provides sex workers with a platform to inform each other of problematic clients and unsafe conditions. The app launched and is in use. St James’ Infirmary is working on tweaking small issues on the web-based app. Tony Flores suggested that SFPD could encourage people to use the app to report an incident. St James’ Infirmary representatives will bring cards to the next committee meeting with the app information for agencies to hand out, and someone from St. James will present at next Task Force meeting: August 23rd 1:30-3:30.

Visit for more information on the app.


  1. Priorities for 2017

(and into 2018) The committee will continue to explore the relationship between anti-human trafficking and sex work. The committee will examine the Task Force priorities set at the January retreat and evaluate next steps from there. Once the SFPD Policy Bulletin goes into effect, next steps will include educating officers and community members and ensuring implementation.


  1. Agenda for Next Meeting: September 25, 2017

Committee members will email Minouche Kandel with agenda items.