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Gaining Support for a Task Force

Surveys of existing anti-human trafficking Task Forces indicate that law enforcement and victim service providers that work together in response to an incident of human trafficking need little convincing that collaboration is essential. While effective collaboration is the result of individuals working together, very few frontline personnel in either sector have the authority to commit themselves—or their organizations—to a strategic, multidisciplinary, and collaborative effort without the support of the organization's leadership. Gaining leadership support should be a goal of the frontline personnel who serve victims or investigate cases of human trafficking.

Presentation of Findings to Key Law Enforcement and Victim Service Leaders

Experience shows that the early success of a task force is usually a result of the passion and commitment of a small group of individuals, from both the law enforcement and victim service sectors. These individuals commit to work together to identify victims and incidents of trafficking, often with varying levels of interest or commitment from the organization's leadership. With successful outcomes—in serving victims, investigating cases, and creating broader and stronger collaborative partnerships—the interest of the organizational leadership will likely increase.

This is also an excellent opportunity to make leadership aware of any regional or state reports regarding human trafficking and response efforts. Depending on the results of the assessment and the identified vulnerable populations, you can present to different law enforcement and victim service leaders. Most commonly, the support for the task force will come from the following offices:

  • Chiefs of police or sheriffs
  • Executive directors of various victim and social service agencies offering both comprehensive and specialized services
  • Child welfare and child protection agencies
  • Immigrant advocacy and service organizations
  • Juvenile justice and diversion programs
  • Legal service providers with human trafficking victim specializations or services
  • State attorneys general and district prosecutors' offices
  • Supervisory agents of federal law enforcement agencies
  • Local U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAO)

The Unique Role of the U.S. Attorney’s Office

The role of the USAO can be a significant factor in the success of task force operations. The USAO is in the unique role of responding to requests from federal, state, and local law enforcement to prosecute federal crimes. The USAO can also mobilize a coordinated victim-centered law enforcement response and advocate for an array of victim services in the jurisdiction.

The U.S. Attorney is in a strong position to assist by emphasizing the importance and benefits of a task force to other key leaders. Each USAO was directed in 2012 to establish or participate in human trafficking task forces, and each of the 94 offices was doing so by the end of FY 2013. Since 2005, including the USAO is a requirement of DOJ’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force program. Because states have trafficking laws, it is also important to secure the support of local district or state prosecutors.

Gaining Wider Public Support

An additional source of support for the creation of a task force is the wider community. The public’s interest in human trafficking—and the response to trafficking—led to the creation of a sector of organizations that advocate for victims, and work to mobilize a response to human trafficking, but often are not involved in providing direct services to victims. These organizations, which may operate on a local, national, or global level, may have tremendous social capital that can be helpful in the creation, sustainment, or growth of a task force’s capacities. These organizations can vary greatly in their capacity and influence, but should be recognized for their existence and (in many cases) their powerful ability to bring attention to anti-trafficking efforts. Some examples can include faith-based groups, student groups, and allied nonprofit organizations. While some may provide victim services (or fund agencies that provide services), their focus is on mobilizing action against human trafficking and advocating for victims, survivors, and policy changes in support of anti-trafficking activities.

For additional information and tools, visit the Resource page for Chapter 2: Forming A Task Force