On September 29, 2014, representatives of the Dallas Police Department met with U.S. Senator John Cornyn at the Mosiac House to bring awareness to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. The act will provide additional support and protection to victims of human trafficking, enhance victims’ services, and increase penalties in order to combat human trafficking, sexual exploitation, child sex trafficking, and child pornography. Through the creation of the Domestic Trafficking Victim’s Fund within the Treasury, the act will utilize the fines imposed on persons convicted of the related crimes. This provision is projected to deliver an additional $30 million to the federal resources available for domestic human trafficking victims. The act will also allow for the forfeiture of all property involved in human trafficking offenses to the government.
With the availability of these additional funds, the act will address human trafficking in three major ways. First, in order to assist victims in the restoration of their security and their lives, grants will be given to organizations such as the Mosiac House. For the last 13 years, the Mosiac House has been helping victims of human trafficking build new lives after escaping modern-day slavery. They do so by providing shelter, counseling, legal representation, and support services. Secondly, these funds will assist law enforcement in the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of offenders. Lastly, changes in legislation clarifications and enhancement of maximum penalties will aim to decrease the human trafficking demands.
Human trafficking is designed to be invisible. The Dallas Police Department has been working arduously to expose modern-day slavery and make these invisible victims visible. Deputy Chief Christina Smith explains that through the development of the nationally recognized High Risk Victims Model, the Dallas Police Department’s specialized VICE Unit collaborates with the Child Exploitation Unit to identify and locate both adult and child victims. The department has also developed Operation Brick and Mortar, which is designed to investigate internet based sex trafficking. This proactive approach focuses on intervention by identification and treatment of victims, prevention by flagging chronic runaways who are high risk victims, and suppression by the aggressive investigation of traffickers. From 2013 to 2014, the Dallas Police Department conducted 121 child sex trafficking investigations, filed 83 felony cases related to child sex trafficking, and arrested 72 perpetrators. As a member of the North Texas Anti-Trafficking Team, we collaborate with almost 40 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and social services to fight human trafficking. With the help of Senator John Cornyn’s Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, the Dallas Police Department aims to continuously improve our efforts in protecting the citizens of Dallas.
The Act has been unanimously passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and currently awaits the approval by the U.S. House of Representatives.