The cooperation among local counter-trafficking actors as well including police officers, border guards, prosecutors, NGOs, and development experts is very important to combat human trafficking in the United States. However, according to the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, there are many challenges to such cooperation due to conflicting interests among local actors. For example, police are generally more focused on arresting and prosecuting criminal suspects while NGOs are more likely to prioritize the victims’ interests. Similarly, immigration officers are more likely to prioritize deportation of illegal migrants while law enforcements are more likely to recognize that victims, whether they reside illegally or not in the country, provide a significant value to the criminal investigation. Additionally, law enforcement agencies in many countries lack highly trained personnel and funding while most local police departments have a narrow perspective within a specific jurisdiction. These constraints can significantly limit their involvement in local cooperation. Moreover, local law enforcement agencies may place human trafficking as low priority compared to other crimes as they are often tied to short-term results rather than long-term strategic impact. In the case of human trafficking, lengthy and complex investigations and significant resources are needed while the results are uncertain and do not yield short-term benefits. So I wanted to share the local government’s initiatives to end human trafficking in San Francisco.
About the Mayor’s Task Force On Anti- Human Trafficking in San Francisco
In March 2013, Mayor Edwin Lee launched the Mayor’s Task Force on Anti-Human Trafficking to coordinate current efforts to combat foreign and domestic human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children in San Francisco. The Mayor’s Task Force focuses on improving the City’s response to human trafficking and identifying gaps in services for survivors. The Task Force takes a comprehensive, victim-centered approach and includes partners from law enforcement, social services agencies, and community based organizations. The Task Force focuses on long-term local solutions to this complex issue that affects the whole community.
The mission of the Task Force is to advance anti-trafficking efforts in the following ways: (1) Examine the nature and scope of human trafficking across San Francisco and the Bay Area; (2) Evaluate progress in combating human trafficking in San Francisco; (3) Identify challenges and opportunities in protecting and assisting victims and bringing traffickers to justice; (4) Identify and address gaps in services for survivors of human trafficking; (5) Create a city-wide strategic plan including milestones and timelines; and (6) Release an annual report on Task Force activities. The Department on the Status of Women staffs the Mayor’s Task Force. The entire Task Force meets bi- monthly. Four specialized subcommittees also meet regularly: Child Sex Trafficking, Illicit Massage Parlor, Super Bowl, and Sex Worker & Trafficking. For last two years, the Mayor’s Task Force has generated a strong collaboration among city and community agencies.
For more information, http://sfgov.org/dosw/mayors-task-force-anti-human-trafficking