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Herring enhancing way Richmond region responds to human trafficking

Photo Credit: senorjackson

Attorney General Mark Herring and members of the Richmond Regional Human Trafficking Collaborative announced Tuesday new initiatives that will improve the way the Richmond region responds to human trafficking including a new case manager position that is focused on juvenile victims, stakeholder trainings, and expanded victims services.

The Collaborative represents five localities including the City of Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, and Henrico. In those five jurisdictions, there were approximately 11 identified minor victims in both 2017 and 2018, for a total of 22 victims.

The new initiatives are part of a more than $350,000 grant that came through the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime’s Integrated Services for Minor Victims of Human Trafficking program.

“Human trafficking is a heinous crime in all its forms but especially when children or minors are involved,” said Herring. “This new case manager will be able to provide young human trafficking victims with the attention and services that they really need following a traumatic experience. Combating human trafficking truly takes a coordinated effort and I want to thank our partners in the Richmond Regional Human Trafficking Collaborative for all their help in our fight against human trafficking.”

The case manager, who will work out of Herring’s office, will provide or assist with initial screening, identify immediate needs of a victim, and work with local agencies to locate a victim’s family and determine whether the victim can return home. The case manager will review the case with the multidisciplinary team and make recommendations for placement, counseling, housing, family reunification and other treatments and services. The case manager will also create an individualized plan for each victim and follow up with all appropriate agencies to ensure a victim is receiving the appropriate services, is being helped through the criminal justice system, is working towards reunification with family, attending school, GED classes, job training, etc. Additionally, this position will leverage partnerships to enhance services within the region, identify service gaps, and provide training to stakeholders to increase identification of potential victims and enhance collaboration between agencies.

“The regional case manager will play an integral role in the Richmond Regional Human Trafficking Collaborative. This position will not only serve as a resource for law enforcement in the Richmond area, but as a lifeline for trafficking victims,” said Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Washington, D.C.

“We are thrilled that our community will soon have a dedicated resource to help promote a coordinated, victim-centered, and trauma informed response to juvenile human trafficking victims,” said Bonnie Price, Administrative Director, Community Health Advocacy, Bon Secours Richmond. “Bon Secours looks forward to working together with the Virginia Office of the Attorney General, and our other partners, to end human trafficking in Virginia.”

“We are grateful that the Richmond area will have a dedicated case manager to work alongside investigative agencies to ensure children and families have someone, from the time a child is identified until case closure, to provide wrap around support and services,” said Stephanie Davis, Child Advocacy Centers Program Coordinator, Richmond SCAN. “We are looking forward to continuing our work with the Attorney General’s office to develop a coordinated response and Multidisciplinary Team approach to address child trafficking in the Richmond area.”

“I am very encouraged by the Attorney General’s actions on Human Trafficking,” said Richmond Chief of Police William C. Smith. “This crime is one of the most challenging to uncover and these programs will help us encourage persons to come forward and support those impacted.”

The Richmond Regional Human Trafficking Collaborative is made up of:

  • Office of the Attorney General
  • S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations
  • Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital
  • The FBI
  • Richmond SCAN
  • Chesterfield CAC
  • Safe Harbor
  • Virginia Crime Commission
  • Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services
  • Law enforcement agencies and Commonwealth’s Attorneys Offices from Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico and the City of Richmond

Herring has made combating human trafficking in the Commonwealth a top priority. In December 2014, Herring launched a statewide human trafficking awareness campaign to raise awareness in Virginia of human trafficking and the resources available to victims and a year later he added an online component to that campaign.

In November 2016, Herring secured a $1.45 million grant that funded the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force, which then launched in January of 2017. The OAG partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Samaritan House, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Virginia State Police, and law enforcement agencies from Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth and Chesapeake for the task force.

Herring and the task force launched a regional awareness campaign in May 2018 and placed billboards on major highways across Hampton Roads encouraging victims or those with information about possible human trafficking to contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s hotline.

Most recently, Gov. Northam signed Herring’s bill that adds offenses related to human trafficking to the list of crimes for which bail can be denied, keeping traffickers in jail and better protecting trafficking victims. That legislation was a recommendation from the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force.




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