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Task Force Operational Protocol

A task force operations protocol is an essential tool to guide a collaborative response to human trafficking. The protocol may include guidelines for information exchange between task force members, clearly defined roles and responsibilities of individual task force members when responding to incidents, investigative and prosecutorial guidelines, conflict resolution policy, joint training documents, and a resource directory, among other things.

Discussing and agreeing on protocols prior to a case or at a time other than when a crisis arises will assist in smooth progression of a case while maintaining positive relationships among task force partners.

The following are common questions that will require attention prior to a case breaking. Having clear protocols to address these questions will ensure an efficient and well-coordinated response.

  • Which law enforcement agency should I call when a victim is ready to talk? Does it depend on the type of trafficking, citizenship status of the victim or the trafficker, number of potential victims, where the crime took place, or other factors?
  • Which victim service provider should law enforcement refer a possible victim to? When and how?  Does it depend on the type of trafficking, citizenship status of the victim or the trafficker, number of potential victims, where the crime took place, or other factors?
  • If law enforcement is planning a potential rescue, are they expected to coordinate with the victim services committee in advance? What about after? How?
  • Where does a potential victim stay after he or she is rescued by law enforcement? How does that differ depending on the age or gender of the victim?
  • Will a potential trafficking victim be charged with prostitution?  If a victim is not identified as a victim until after charges are filed, what can be done?  Does it depend on the gender, age, or immigration status of the victim?
  • What kind of information does law enforcement share with the victim service provider at the point of referral?  What about as the investigation evolves? Is this shared only with the provider serving the victim or with the entire victim services committee?
  • How can we secure an interpreter for an arraignment, victim interview, or other meeting or proceeding? Who pays for that?
  • Who will request short-term immigration relief or a law enforcement certification for a T or U visa application for foreign national victims?

Response Protocols

Response protocols formalize the responsibilities of both law enforcement and victim service providers; sometimes these protocols can be combined in one document, other times it may be more efficient to create one protocol for law enforcement and another for victim service provider case managers and other service providers. If this is the case, both protocols should contain, at a minimum, the basic responsibilities of the other sector and contact information. Remember to assess the safety of your staff as well as that of the victim. Training from professionals with expertise in conducting Danger Assessments is a useful resource for working with victims whose trafficker is also their intimate partner. Protocols then become a useful tool to gain support and involvement from other agencies, as they show an existing model of response and leadership's support of the model. Most importantly, it ensures that victims will receive services more quickly and both providers and victims will be protected.

For additional information and tools, visit the Resource page for Section 3.1 Task Force Membership & Management.