Sacramento Sheriff social media post on child prostitution draws backlash, support

While he was a captain in the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, an Elk Grove City Council member, and a California Assemblymember, Jim Cooper has long advocated against all forms of child sexual exploitation. Now that he is Sacramento County Sheriff, Cooper has continued this advocacy.

Along with initiating a project called Operation Reckoning, which targets sex trafficking, on February 9, Cooper posted a produced video showing some recent arrests activity. 

While that video produced 133 comments, many opposed some of the featured subjects. There were also 169 "likes."

The more controversial video, in terms of negative comments, was posted by Cooper on January 25. Most of the 452 comments criticized Cooper for posting images of underage sex workers, while there were 378 "likes" as of today.    

Use the arrow keys on the left side to view four other images and press the middle arrow to play the videos. While the images do not show nudity, and the faces have been hidden, some viewers may find them unsettling. 

An Instagram account is needed to view the entire post, including the comments.

Typical of the comments were, "You shouldn't have posted these pictures. You are now exploiting them for views and likes" and "These pics don't address the problem and are exploitative. Please remove this post. Stop blaming the victims."

While many demanded removal, there were also comments about Cooper's assertion that "child prostitution is legal." That debate focused on Senate Bill 357 (which Cooper voted against as an Assemblymember), which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 2, 2022.

That bill, which had the support of groups like the ACLU, Trans Latin@ Coalition, and Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, prohibits police from arresting people for loitering. Civil rights activists say the new law prevents police from targeting people based on race and appearance, while law enforcement says it makes policing against sex trafficking more difficult. 

When making the post, Cooper noted the video images were taken from websites advertising sex services and acknowledged their shocking nature. 

Cooper wrote, "As a father, these images are troubling to me, and I debated on putting them out in the first place, but I think the public needs to see what's really happening on our streets everyday." 

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