BROWN JOINS LAW ENFORCEMENT IN TOLEDO TO CALL FOR RESOURCES TO HELP HOMELESS AND RUNAWAY YOUTH AT RISK OF BEING FUNNELED INTO HUMAN TRAFFICKING RINGS
Sherrod Brown Urged Administration to Make Toledo First in Line for New Funds
TOLEDO, OH – Following passage of a critical anti-human trafficking bill, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to direct resources to northwest Ohio to help local law enforcement track down homeless youth and runaways – nearly one-third of whom are lured toward trafficking within weeks of leaving home.
“Runaway children and teens are vulnerable, easy targets for traffickers,” Brown said. “Although this community has built a strong coalition, and we need to support and build on its work. That’s why I’m urging Attorney General Lynch to give law enforcement the resources to find these kids before they fall prey to traffickers. Modern-day slavery is a heinous crime, and we must marshal every available tool to ensure these crimes do not continue.”
After a group of retired law enforcement agents approached Brown’s office about the need for additional resources in the field, Brown introduced legislation – which was included in the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act signed by the President in May – that would create a grant program to provide additional resources to assist law enforcement in tracking down homeless and runaway youth who are at risk of being trafficked. In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch sent today, Brown urged her to make implementation of this program a priority.
During a press conference in Toledo Monday, Brown joined Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp, Retired FBI agent Bill Radcliffe, and a Toledo woman who was trapped into domestic sex trafficking after running away from home at age 14.
Full text of the letter is below.
July 6, 2015
Honorable Loretta E. Lynch
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Lynch:
Earlier this year Congress passed and the President signed into law the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. As you know this legislation authorizes the Attorney General to award grants to develop, improve, or expand domestic human trafficking deterrence programs in order to assist law enforcement officers who are essential in assisting the Department of Justice’s efforts to combat trafficking.
One grant program authorized by the Act would provide resources so retired federal law enforcement personnel could assist local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to find homeless and runaway youth. As the author of this provision, I urge the Department of Justice to make implementation of this grant program a priority. Human trafficking is a particularly serious problem in Northwest Ohio and communities like Toledo deserve the chance to take advantage of this program.
This grant program was inspired by a group of retired FBI agents in Northwest Ohio who came to my office and asked for my help to create a program that would allow retired agents to assist local law enforcement in finding runaway children. Law enforcement in Northwestern Ohio – as in much of the nation – has limited resources to devote to missing children’s cases, and these retired FBI agents want to help local law-enforcement officials investigate the many runaways in Ohio every year. Police do not always have the manpower to track these children but every city has retired agents who could assist “overworked” departments. By quickly finding these youth, we can assist them before they are found by those who would prey upon them and do them harm.
As you work to structure this program I urge you to take a close look at Team Adam, a program run through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children that provides investigative and technical assistance to local law enforcement officers in serious cases of missing children. Team Adam is staffed by approximately 70 retired federal, state, and local investigators and its consultants determine which additional resources or assistance would be valuable with the search for the victim, the investigation of the crime, and family crisis management. This grant program could be modeled off Team Adam with a specific focus on runaway and homeless youth at risk of being victims of human trafficking.
While human trafficking is a serious problem in Northwest Ohio, the local community continues to work to build a durable coalition that addresses the issue and promotes creative and innovative approaches to combat trafficking. In past years, Toledo has ranked as high as fourth nationally in the number of trafficker arrests and victim rescues among the FBI’s Innocence Lost Task Forces focusing on youth trapped in the sex trade. Its Second Chance Program is the oldest direct service program for victims in the state and won a national FBI award in 2010. Earlier this year, the University of Toledo launched a Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute to respond to and alleviate human trafficking. This grant program is another opportunity for the community to demonstrate its commitment to addressing this issue.
As you are aware, homeless and runaway youth are particularly vulnerable, with one third lured toward trafficking within days or weeks of leaving home. That is why it is absolutely essential that we give our communities the resources they need to find missing children before they fall prey to traffickers. This grant program would help give communities the tools to do exactly that.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.