Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force selected for federal program
The Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force has been selected as one of two sites nationally to participate in the federal TraffickSTOP pilot program to educate high school youth about human trafficking.
This program will be a collaboration between the Task Force, the Newport News Police Department, and Newport News Public Schools.
Outgoing Attorney General Mark Herring was instrumental in the creation of the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force.
“I am incredibly proud of the work that the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force has done to combat human trafficking in the region, and their selection to participate in this program shows just how impactful their work has been,” Herring said. “The sad reality is that unscrupulous people will prey on young, impressionable people, which is why it’s so important that Virginia’s youth are armed with the tools they need to help protect themselves and others. I want to thank both the Newport News Police Department and Newport News Public Schools for partnering with the Task Force on this important initiative.”
TraffickSTOP is both a human trafficking identification and prevention curriculum for high school students, as well as a training for law enforcement to deliver the curriculum in schools. Newport News School resource officers will deliver the curriculum to students, along with members of the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force and others, and with support from other community stakeholders.
The federal program is supported by the Office for Victims of Crime, the Office of Justice Programs, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the National White Collar Crime Center. NW3C worked with the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Association of School Resources Officers to produce a toolkit that contained the curriculum, materials and resources that will be implemented in Norfolk Public Schools, and other selected schools.
Goals of the TraffickSTOP program:
- Educate students on identification and prevention of human trafficking and child exploitation
- Promote online safety and building healthy relationships
- Strengthen partnerships between School Resource Officers, the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force, and schools
“The Newport News Police Department is excited to participate in the TraffickSTOP pilot program during the 2021-2022 school year. Our youth are near and dear to us and they play a major role in our city’s future. We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with Newport News Public Schools and the Office of the Attorney General to better educate and protect our youth from the dangers of human trafficking,” Newport News Chief of Police Steve Drew said.
The Task Force is a collaboration between Office of Attorney General, Homeland Security Investigations, Samaritan House, Transitions Family Violence Services, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Virginia State Police, and law enforcement agencies and prosecutors from Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Portsmouth.
The Task Force takes a comprehensive approach to human trafficking that meets the personal needs of victims and the public safety goals of the community. The HRHTTF has an Executive Committee that oversees operations, a Victim Services committee that has brought together both community-based and systems-based organizations to determine the needs and gaps in services for victims, a Law Enforcement and Prosecution committee to investigate and prosecute sex and labor trafficking cases, and an Outreach and Training Committee to provide awareness and training to a wide range of stakeholders, including law enforcement, prosecutors, schools, colleges, faith-based communities, hotels, airlines, airports, probation and parole, juvenile services, and community members.
To date, the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force has opened 337 investigations, made 135 arrests, identified 227 confirmed victims, and prosecuted 38 cases. The Outreach and Training committee has provided 52 trainings to various community groups, such as Newport News Neighborhood Watch Coalition, and the TSA at the Norfolk Airport; 28 outreach events that included efforts at the Norfolk Airport and Bus Terminal, outreach to the Native American Community and the Hotel/Motel Industry.
In addition, the HRHTTF partnered with the Richmond Regional Minor Victim of Human Trafficking program to provide training to law enforcement, prosecutors, and juvenile probation officers.