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Understanding and Improving Law Enforcement Responses to Human Trafficking

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2005, $350,994)

This project will provide a comprehensive assessment of the current state of law enforcement responses to human trafficking. Though not a study of the actual extent of trafficking, as defined by victims, this project measures and describes how trafficking is identified or recognized and evaluates whether such recognition leads to investigations, interventions and/or prosecutions. This project also examines whether trafficking investigations apprehend perpetrators who are involved in other local criminal activities. Understanding the quantity and quality of law enforcement responses to trafficking cases helps answer important questions about whether perpetrators have shifted away from ' or perhaps integrated - traditional crimes (e.g., drug dealing, weapons trading) to trafficking in persons, particularly in women and girls, as a means of illegal revenue.

The project will answer key strategic, tactical and policy questions about identification, reporting and collaborative investigation between agencies for a 'new' or 'specialized' crime. Building on previous research around police recognition and reprioritization of new types of crimes (e.g., domestic violence, stalking, bias-motivated crime), this project seeks to understand how police identify, report and investigate trafficking incidents. Information will also be provided about the success of different strategies (e.g., inter-agency task forces, specialized patrol officer training and increased service provider partnerships) to increase the identification, investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. This project will provide information to law enforcement agencies, investigators, prosecutors and service providers about the quantity and quality of current law enforcement responses to trafficking and identify successful models for recognizing, reporting and intervening in situations of human trafficking.

This project has three components, a national survey, a targeted survey and three case studies. A national sample of law enforcement agencies will be surveyed to determine local definitions of human trafficking, the number and type of investigations conducted, the extent of reporting and coordination with other agencies and the 'best practices' for combating human trafficking problems encountered. Data from this survey will provide the first benchmark of police identification of human trafficking. The team expects to mail surveys to a sample of 4,000 law enforcement agencies with the expectation of a 40%-50% response rate. In selected jurisdictions with existing trafficking programs, multi-agency partners (e.g., law enforcement, US Attorneys, District Attorneys, service providers) will be surveyed to help identify the benefits and challenges of reporting, investigating and prosecuting trafficking using multi-agency models. As a compliment to the surveys, intensive case studies will also be conducted in Boston, Massachusetts, St. Louis, Missouri and Phoenix, Arizona to provide rich qualitative data about local efforts to investigate human trafficking cases and provide services to trafficking victims. These jurisdictions represent different dynamics of the human trafficking problem and each has begun to work on these problems using a multi-agency approach. CA/NCF

Date Created: September 20, 2005