New Ohio collaborative attacks trafficking

Attorney General DeWine and The Salvation Army establish joint effort.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and The Salvation Army in Columbus pooled resources and formed a new partnership—the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Collaborative—to bring greater focus to the problem of human trafficking, add capacity to respond to human trafficking cases, and build communication channels across jurisdictional boundaries and between law enforcement, prosecutors, and social service providers.

“I can’t stress enough how serious of a problem human trafficking is in Ohio,” said Attorney General Mike DeWine.  “With this new partnership we aim to prevent traffickers from escaping notice by moving from one jurisdiction to another and improve the opportunities available for trafficking victims to get the help they need.”

The group’s operations are being funded by two U.S. Department of Justice grants totaling nearly $700,000.

“We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with law enforcement while we build Central Ohio’s capacity to assist people who are trapped in labor and sex trafficking situations,” said Michelle Hannan, Salvation Army Central Ohio director of professional and community services.

The grants will primarily be used to: fund additional investigative support for both sex and labor trafficking cases by hiring two new Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) agents to focus exclusively on human trafficking issues; fund a full-time victim advocate to be co-located in the task force office; fund victim assistance programs with an emphasis on enhancing resources already provided by The Salvation Army; and allow members of the collaborative to identify human trafficking victims through proactive, victim-centered and collaborative law enforcement methods, while bringing mental and physical health screenings to victims, as well as providing safe, temporary housing immediately following a rescue.

The Department of Justice’s U.S. Attorney’s Office will also play a role in the collaborative by helping with suspect prosecution, data collection, and community outreach efforts.

Collaborative members will also work closely with the Ohio Attorney General’s Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force which includes officers from the Columbus Police Department, BCI, the Powell Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

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