OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Implementing the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force Model
Ari Redbord, Derek Marsh  -  2012/8/22
How can task forces deal with competing goals/wants? For instance, NGOs may be focused on service provision for victims, while law enforcement will focus on gathering evidence and witnesses for prosecution.
1.  Derek Marsh
 LLE (local law enforcement) are the folks on the street, making contacts, initiating local investigations, developing corroboration to victim’s statements to increase the chances of prosecution: the Feds help with intelligence support and gathering evidence or even taking cases that show transnational or state border crossing patterns of criminal activity; prosecutors determine best strategies for holding suspects accountable at the federal/local level; victim advocates help with transitioning victims to survivors, and help coordinate resources ranging from legal advocacy to food, shelter, clothing, medical/dental, psych support, education/training needs, etc. Without all members working together to forward these goals, victim services and proactive case management becomes problematic.
2.  Ari Redbord
 In D.C. NGOs and law enforcement most often work closely together to engage and serve victims while simultaneously investigating and prosecuting cases. Frankly, law enforcement needs to take a victim centered approach in order to maintain the important relationship with a victim who may ultimately testify at trial and the NGOs must support law enforcement in order to get the best outcome possible for a victim of trafficking. I have found when you develop that personal relationship over a series of cases, you are able to better serve victims and better prosecute traffickers. The short answer to your question would be simply – the key is to work toward having the same goals and that starts with complete trust between law enforcement and an NGO on a personal level.
3.  Derek Marsh
 Hello, Lucia. The trick for us in Orange County was having the representatives assigned to the task force from the different agencies accept the federal perspective on/ approach to human trafficking: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, and (more recently) Collaboration. Each agency has a role to play within the framework, and it makes the most sense to let agencies good at different aspects of the strategy “stake out” those areas. This means everyone has to trust everyone else’s expertise, and agree that it takes a “village” to effectively pursue proactive HT cases:
4.  Ari Redbord
 This is an issue that arises from time to time, but in D.C. we are very lucky. The relationship between NGOs and law enforcement, in my mind, is the most important element of a Task Force. You really need to foster and build those relationships on a personal level. You need to develop a level of trust. In other words, do you trust this person to come do their job at 3 a.m. when they get a call – law enforcement or NGOs. If personal relationships are developed, it has been my experience that people are actually working toward the same goal. It is the Task Force Coordinator’s job to help NGOs (and victims) understand the importance of investigating and prosecuting cases, and help law enforcement focus on a victim centered approach.
Besides education, what is the next step to raise the identification of the victims?
1.  Derek Marsh
 Hi, Moriah. I am not sure what you are asking in your follow up question. I would like to qualify that, while we want our trainings to make people feel comfortable with understanding what HT is and is not, as well as being able to identify suspicious situations, we do not condone private citizens or organizations actively investigating potential HT cases. Their role is to ID and report only.
2.  Moriah
 People ask me where the victims are. I reply with me need to train to identify. Do you think that if I use your data collection process I can sway people who think old methods work with these victims?
3.  Derek Marsh
 Hello, Moriah. The next step would be identification of potential trafficking situations. When we educate folks locally, we challenge them to go out and not only share what they have learned with friends, but to report suspicious circumstances, either to the National Hotline, or to our local website. I believe education is important, but actionable education is even more so—especially for adult learners. Of course, then the task force members become responsible for investigating these leads. While we (as law enforcement) do not discuss active investigations, we do discuss in our task force meetings the types of tips and information we need to start a viable investigation, and use examples of previous tips (without naming names) to show their positive and challenging aspects.
4.  Ari Redbord
 Finally, I think the Human Trafficking Resources Center – the hotline – is a critical tool for LE and NGOs. 1-888-373-7888.
5.  Ari Redbord
 Obviously, community outreach is important to shine a light on the issue, but law enforcement training is, perhaps, even more important. Patrol officers, detectives, agents in other law enforcement areas are often the first responders in HT cases. For example, a patrol officer responds to a radio run for an DV assault in progress. We need to make sure that officer knows what to look for in terms of sex and labor trafficking. We all know that traffickers and their victims are often involved in “DV-like” relationships. That officers needs to be trained to see trafficking. Because, especially labor, cases exist behind closed doors, we really need to train first responders – patrol officers – to identify trafficking cases.
6.  Ari Redbord
 It is just so critical for law enforcement and NGOs to work closely together. I have learned that NGOs identify victims that law enforcement does not know about and vice versa. From a law enforcement perspective, I try to work closely with NGOs because they identify so many victims that could be critical for law enforcement.
Though we are working on solutions, we are finding that in our area, there really are no local resources that can house victims of human trafficking securely, outside of detention, pending reunification with the victim's parents, who are most often out of state. Do you all have a protocol in place for scenarios such as our's?
1.  Jody Williams
 Sex Workers Anonymous here. We have a lot of experience that if you can bring us in as "survivors" for them to speak to while they're in shelters, they'll "stick" and do better. Otherwise, most just run. Especially when they are the only other survivor there. http://stoptraffictalk.webs.com/apps/podcast/ We can even webcam a meeting into the shelter to help them "stick" better. It's been very effective in our experience. If we can help at all please contact us at www.sexworkersanonymous.net
2.  Jody Williams
 One way you can help them to "stay" in the shelter they feel out of place in - is to put them in touch with us at www.sexworkersanonymous.net I've been doing this since 1987 - and I've found that as long as they have phone contact with another survivor (myself), I'm able to talk them through the experience from one side to the other so they don't run. They "run" often because they need to talk to another person in the sex biz that understands them. I provide them with this so they don't have to run to get that. By speaking "their language" I can also help them to understand what's going on, how to hang on, etc. Give them our phone number (888) 253-9619 and we can help your "stick" rates go up!
3.  Moriah
 It is important to consider how much trauma these victims have most likely gone through since childhood, and how we are supposed to be protecting them. When you place the HT victims with a general population of peers they are revictimized a majority of the time.
4.  Kim Ulmet
 Moriah, unfortunately, the shelters you are referencing, I believe, are unsecure. The last thing we want (as law enforcement) is for the victim to run... again. We need to make sure they are safe, they receive the resources they need, and we get them back home or with other relatives safely. Hopefully, at some point soon, we can find or develop secure places without the need for detaining them.
5.  Moriah
 It is revictimizing them to place them in regular detention centers, TFC, or any other means. Legislatively there are options (e.g. safe harbor, or clearing records). But saying they are only safe in detention is, in my opinion, an uneducated statement being that we put the victims through more trama, and the people it makes it easier on are the NGO's and law enforcement.
6.  Amy Siniscalchi
 I work for a DV agency, and we have found that the majority of our trafficking victims are also DV victims, thus qualify to reside in our shelters. Their abuse may have been perpetrated by a spouse or intimate partner who also happens to be their trafficker. Additionally, we interpret this broadly in our shelter, so that if the victim was intimately assaulted by the trafficker, we consider this to be DV. We have not had any problems getting our county/state to reimburse us for their stay in shelter, as we present them as DV victims and not trafficking victims. You can speak to your local DV shelters and they can do an analysis of their state regulations to see if the definition of a DV victim can be interpreted more broadly to include many of your trafficking victims.
7.  Ari Redbord
 I have to agree with you guys. I think the key is to work toward developing NGOs who are able to provide secure housing. But while that is being worked on, YRS type facilities may be the best answer. But it is a frustrating problem.
8.  Kim Ulmet
 Yes, it seems that detention really is the only secure means of housing them for us. Our concern with housing them with an NGO is because it is unsecure and we do not want to take the risk that the victim would run.
9.  Derek Marsh
 Hello, Kim. Housing victims is a significant problem just about everywhere, especially for juveniles. Unfortunately, sometimes detention may be the best answer in the short term. This allows for NGOs to have more time to find resources, and allows the victim to be safely segregated from their trafficker. What we have tried to do is educate our probation, juvenile judges, and juvenile detention personnel so they are sensitive to the unique circumstances of HT victims. Still, though, not an ideal solution.
10.  Ari Redbord
 This is really one of the biggest problems facing law enforcement and NGOs today. Unfortunately, I don’t have a great answer for you. There are so few facilities nationwide that fit this need. I think it is critical to support any NGOs out there that are trying to provide inpatient programs or other housing solutions.
At what point can we make the designation that a missing person is trafficked and not thrownaway or runaway or prostitution? Do we have to have known trafficking is set up in our area, or the victim self acknowledge? What are the distinctions?
1.  Derek Marsh
 Hello, JJ. There are two ways to designate a person as a potential victim of HT: (1) the person discloses enough information to meet the elements of the crime at the local (state) or federal level or, (2), law enforcement is able to determine potential trafficking exists through proactive or reactive investigations. HT is just about everywhere, so ID-ing a particular area would not be necessary.
I have found that there are not that many providers for mental health services who offer VOC to clients, and human trafficking victims are the most difficult to qualify as there is minimum amount of documentation brought forth to verify that a crime actually occurred. How can we get around this?
1.  Tamra Tuggle
 I have noticed that larger metropolitan area hospitals are providing training to ER doctors and nurses as well as hospital counselors so that they are better equipped to work with victims of human trafficking when brought into the ER. How can smaller area hospitals train their staff? Are there training sessions provided by federal and state agencies that are cost efficient for these smaller facilities?
2.  Derek Marsh
 Hi, Sylvia. I recommend the best workaround is engaging a legal advocate who can prepare the forms quickly and present them to partner law enforcement agencies so they can agree a potential trafficking situation exists. In my experience, victims tend to disclose to legal counsel long before they disclose to advocates or law enforcement. With legal advocates on the team, the information they get from victims might not be useful for immediate investigations, but it can be sufficient to suggest HT is occurring.
In my job I often work with chronic runaways, some of whom we never really find. It has been brought to my attention that some of these children end up in Atlantic City (a large trafficking hub), yet I'm having a hard time getting people on board with how pressing of an issue this is. What tips do you have to recruit task force members and show people how devastating and pervase this problem is?
1.  Derek Marsh
 Hi, Lindsay. From a local law enforcement perspective, I have found that motivating LLEs to engage in the issue is more likely if you equate HT investigations of juveniles in the sex industry as being child sexual assault cases. Many of the same techniques are used, and it is difficult for officers to miss the significance of these cases. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a great resource for stats and information that can help persuade that HT is more ubiquitous than the occasional made for TV movie.
2.  Ari Redbord
 Fortunately in D.C. we have such a strong NGO community who really gets the issue and we do not have to recruit members. I would say that the first step is to have a strong law enforcement presence. Work on training law enforcement on the issue. In addition if you do not have a strong trafficking NGO presence, reach out to NGOs working in domestic and sexual violence issues because those are so closely linked in so many trafficking cases. Community outreach and training is also critical. Go out to churches, synagogues, community groups, media and get the word out. But, this whole thing starts with a strong partnership between law enforcement and NGOs.
Which task force models offer the most promising practices? What makes them successful?
1.  Jody Williams
 This is Jody, founder of Sex Workers Anonymous around since 1987. We have found one of the biggest barriers to victims being able to access help through your task forces is that you're not asking survivors to help you structure things so victims can find you. For example, I've been "testing" out many task forces to see if they can be accessed in the ways in which victims find us for help over the years. So far you guys are extremely hard for victims to connect to. Whether it's where the meetings are held, or your phone numbers, lack of a website, etc.
2.  Derek Marsh
 Hello, Christa. The major players in the HT arena have been the task forces that have been able to sustain throughout the years. So, DC is a major player; Clearwater, FL; Texas; Seattle, WA; Chicago, IL—these are just to mention a few. I would look to any task force that has been “reaffirmed” by being awarded the Enhanced HT Model. The key with all of these task forces is their emphasis on collaborations with as many stakeholders as they can get involved, consistent outreach efforts, and ongoing proactive investigations and prosecutions of traffickers.
3.  Ari Redbord
 You can see I like this question! I would just add that, to me, what makes a Task Force successful, is the degree to which LE and NGOs work closely together to make cases and serve victims.
4.  Ari Redbord
 In addition we have committees – LE, Direct Services, Training, and Outreach. The chairs of those committees are made up of law enforcement and NGOs and provide critical stability to the Task Force. In addition we have much larger monthly meeting where there is usually a training and committee updates. I could imagine a smaller Task Force relying on a core group of representatives from NGOs and LE. This is obviously the key question and I would be happy to talk about this offline with anyone who is interested as your Task Forces evolve.
5.  Ari Redbord
 Great question! The answer is probably pretty nuanced depending on your jurisdiction. In D.C. we have a large task force with local law enforcement, numerous federal agencies and myriad NGOs. We have found that the key is to have a core group of local and federal LE and NGO’s working closely together outside the context of a regular meeting. Let’s call that the core group.
How would you say that task forces have changed since the inception of the original OVC model in 2004
1.  Derek Marsh
 Hi, Phil. Task forces have evolved significantly since 2004. Initially, the sole focus was on foreign nationals being trafficked, and are domestic victims were not emphasized. Initially, collaboration was important; however, it is now essential to prove ongoing partnerships to qualify for funding. Initially, all participants from the various agencies had to develop unique methods for assigning responsibilities; now, best practices have been established (and shared by OVC on their website) to help jump start new task forces. Overall, the issue has become more nationally recognized and enjoys great recognition and support from LLEs and NGOs on through to the federal government. Overall, many meaningful changes that have positively impacted our ability to pursue HT cases/victims successfully.
What can Crime Victim Compensation Programs do in cooperation with local law enforcement to more efficiently verify that a claimant is a Human Trafficking victim. Or, what questions can or should be asked of local law enforcement officers, given that most HT victims are not usually direct/forthcoming? Thank you.
1.  Jody Williams
 Sex Workers Anonymous has been working with trafficking victims since 1987. The difference when getting a victim to speak to you about being a trafficking victim, or knowing about one - is all in how you question them. Body language is a HUGE factor. If I can be of any help - let me know. We've processed over 250,000 cases plus over the years.
2.  Ari Redbord
 I would reach out to your HTTF and talk to the Coordinator about working more closely with your CVCP. In D.C., at least to some extent, the CVC relies on law enforcement reports. I have found that if the victim is not cooperative, she is likely not wanting to sit down with CVC either, but that may not be your experience.
We are currently developing a task force, yet are unsure of how broad our "membership" scope should. For instance, we are contemplating whether efforts would be more or less productive in making the task force state-wide, rather than focused on our city.
1.  Ari Redbord
 This is an important question when developing a Task Force. You want to be as inclusive as possible, but do not want to water down the work. We have made the decision in D.C. to just focus on D.C. – as opposed to the close in MD and VA suburbs. However, at the same time we work very closely with NGOs and law enforcement in those places. So one solution is to bring those folks in that could help make cases and serve victims in your jurisdiction – in other words folks who work close by – but don’t try to tackle cases that are coming in from the other side of the state.
2.  Pittman
 There are numerous agencies/LE either way we go. Any adivce?
I realize there is a huge lack of shelters for victims of human trafficking and that the juvenile court is not where they should be. However, there is also a lot of research that is showing that residential-based programs are not always the best environment either. Is there any kind of community based model that you know of or in the works that offers better results?
1.  Jody Williams
 Children of the Night now has a New York branch of their program. They also will fly any child out to them at their expense any time day or not. We've used them ourselves many times over the years www.sexworkersanonymous.net
2.  Derek Marsh
 Hello, Joan. I agree that juvenile victims and their housing needs are a vastly contended issue; in fact we struggle with these issues as a task force with every juvenile victim we identify. I have no ready solutions for you. I know Children of the Night has had success on the West Coast, but there are many more that are emerging with a focus on the special needs juvenile HT victims have. As you seem to be aware, juvenile shelters and DV shelters do not sufficiently serve victims of HT. I would refer you to OVC for potential models that are effective.
Our statewide Task Force that is relatively new. We do not yet have too many identified cases of human trafficking in Vermont. Are there other states that are in the startup phase, and is there a recommended format for Task Forces in states like this?
1.  Ari Redbord
 Check out the OVC website for information and suggestions. As I mentioned in a previous answer (see the thread below) D.C. is a large Task Force with a committee type model. That said, there is still a small core group of LE and NGOs that are constantly engaged. Perhaps starting with a small group and taking a look at the issue in your state. If it is simply not a problem in Vermont than you can use those resources in other areas. Finally, I am sure you have done this, but it might make sense to reach out to similarly situated states -- NH, Maine, etc.
We are trying to build a multidisciplinary team here in CT. I am representing the non-hospital based community primary care doctors and OB/GYNs. Though we are increasingly better at screening for domestic violence, I think this will be a new topic to many. What are some good first steps to get community primary care providers educated about trafficking and become part of the team?
1.  Kate
 An excellent online set of resources for healthcare providers can be found at Polaris Project: see http://www.polarisproject.org/resources/tools-for-service-providers-and-law-enforcement. HHS has a list of resources including assessment sheets, pocket cards (laminated nicely), posters to promote awareness, etc. See: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking/campaign_kits/index.html#health. They will send you boxes of these materials to give to your staff to have instantly available, at no cost. The Freedom Network can do in-person trainings for you, tailored to teaching health-care workers to identify and assist HT victims. Here's a link to their training brochure: http://freedomnetworkusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/FNTI_brochure_new-alt1.pdf
2.  Ari Redbord
 Also, physical injuries corroborate abuse – and we get force, fraud or coercion. Great that you guys are involved!
3.  Ari Redbord
 Definitely seek out HT training, from your local HTTF, online through OVC/BJA or at a training of some kind. But, also rely on the training that you have gotten in terms of DV and sex offense. In those cases you are trained to look at relationships. Is there a dominant male in the room doing all the talking? Does the patient look intimidated? In terms of the examination, I have found that SANE – type exams can be really important in trafficking cases. While the victim may not be claiming sexual assault, vaginal or other physical injuries could corroborate some part of the victim’s account if the case was to go to trial. For example, a SANE could corroborate injuries consistent with sex in uncomfortable situations – in cars alley’s, etc. This is corroboration for trafficking.
4.  Ari Redbord
 This is a really exciting prospect. When you talk about identifying cases, obviously it is so important to get healthcare providers involved. Frankly, HT cases are not all that different than DV cases from a healthcare professional point of view. To be continued . . .
When working HT cases, how do you decide when to close a case? We see many that involve many people but the longer we take to get them all (suspects and victims), the longer victims are victimized. But if you don't get them all they just victimze the next person.
1.  Derek Marsh
 Hello, Mark. As a LLE, I have less tolerance for long investigations with victims being identified and being exploited throughout the process. In fact, much of our best intelligence comes from the victims, not the surveillances and backgrounds and records checks we do. The quick answer is, that it “depends.” If a juvenile is involved, we intervene immediately—even if it costs us the case (which it has). Overall, the federal position about HT is a victim oriented approach so, we have a tendency to error on the side of intervening too soon to minimize victimization, despite the toll it takes on our prosecution tasks.
How does uncovering a labor trafficking case differ from a sex trafficking case? In addition to Dept. of Labor, are there other types of organizations that are important to include on a task force in order to address labor trafficking?
1.  Derek Marsh
 Hello, Jill. Primarily, most of our labor trafficking cases are initially reported to our NGO partners and then referred to LLE and federal LEs. The Dept. of Labor is important during the investigations, though I would include the IRS when possible to help assess the “business’” financial history, or lack of history. Federal partner engagement is more important in these cases, as many of our labor cases have involved foreign nationals. This also means the case will take longer to adjudicate, so sustained victim advocacy throughout the process is critical. I hope this points you in the right direction, though I would say the more people involved, the better off you will be in any type of HT case, as each case and victim are so unique.
2.  Amy Siniscalchi
 hi Jill! We have the state Department of Labor on our Task Force, and it has been so helpful. They recently came in and helped us investigate a labor case. They also submitted the law enforcement referral for NYS confirmation, which is tremendously helpful. Also, bring in the Attorney General's office too.
3.  Ari Redbord
 In terms of Task Force membership beyond DOL, HSI (from an immigration perspective) can be really helpful, as are postal inspectors, local government agents who deal in zoning, permit, and other regulatory work, can be important. Those are the folks who often regularly inspect restaurants, hotels, etc.
4.  Ari Redbord
 Hi Jill. Labor trafficking cases, at least here in D.C., are simply tougher to uncover than the sex trafficking cases. They usually occur behing closed doors in businesses or private homes. That is why LE training is the most important piece of making these cases. Training the patrol officer who sees something suspicious -- on a DV assault call, sees a suspicious interaction in a yard or front stoop, or vans pulling early in the morning to restaurants -- must be trained to identify trafficking. To be continued . . .
Has a task force been formed that is specifically geared towards the labor side of trafficking?
1.  Derek Marsh
 Hello, Casey. I have not heard of a task force specifically geared towards labor trafficking. Obviously, certain agencies are more apt to find/investigate it. However, if a task force is looking for HT, both should manifest, and the task force should be prepared to handle both the victim(s) and investigations accordingly.
2.  Ari Redbord
 I can only really speak for D.C., but would be curious to hear what other people have to say once this is opened up. In D.C. we focus on labor and sex trafficking. While they are, to some extent, different types of cases, they often involve the same LE and NGO players. If labor is a particular problem in your jurisdiction (and sex is not as much of an issue) it might make sense to focus on labor and put a core labor group together.
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