Kate Crisham, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Western District of Washington State: Collaboration is essential to helping trafficking victims. Our task force is known as WashACT—the Washington Advisory Committee on Trafficking. We do have really strong relationships between law enforcement, the prosecutor's office, and social service agencies who are directly serving victims. We wanted to talk about the Freedom Network.
Kathleen Morris, Anti-Trafficking Program Manager, International Rescue Committee: Having us all work together equally and recognizing equal partnership has been important to boosting victim services.
Kate Crisham: For many years, law enforcement and social service agencies sometimes were, at the very best, kind of a bit wary of each other. When you work in partnership, you're willing to kind of break through some of those natural barriers, and that has really been essential for us with reaching out to the victims to building the great cases that we've been able to do.
Kathleen Morris: Having law enforcement partners who say, "We can't do our work without service providers," really does show the rest of the community that we work with that we're equally respected.
Woman: They're a tremendous resource for us.
James Fitzgerald, Lieutenant, Seattle Police Department: For me, 35 years in law enforcement, the key to any success is relationship-building. I've met some of our collaborative individuals on a one-on-one basis. You can't move forward unless you know the problems that your partners experience—what are some of the pitfalls, the road bumps? So establishing those individual relationships are very important.
Michelle Nasser, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Illinois: The ultimate goal of our task force here in Chicago is to raise awareness and to provide more services for the victims and to successfully prosecute the cases. One of the necessary goals along the way is to be able to provide appropriate services for the victims. Mychell Mitchell, FBI Victim Specialist, Memphis, Tennessee: It's all about planning to serve.
Woman: ...really having a good response from our law enforcement partners...
Mychell Mitchell: Looking at your challenges, looking at your area of expertise, and working together.
Michelle Nasser: We need to have trust between the NGOs and law enforcement so that NGOs feel comfortable coming to law enforcement when their client has given them consent to report the crime and to begin developing a prosecutable case.
Jack Blakey, Chief, Special Prosecutions Bureau, Cook County State's Attorney Office: It builds a mutual respect for the differing roles but also the common mission that we have to serve survivors of human trafficking.
Ronny: I experienced labor trafficking. We were really scared. We were uncertain what's going to happen. The first day that we arrived in Biloxi, we didn't have money to buy food. And then we met social worker. An agent from ICE start interviewing us, asking questions about the case and all those things that we went through. But our case was already open in Kansas, and they start helping us. Because we provide enough information of what they did to us, they went to jail for years and years.
Stephanie Pratt, Victims of Crime Program Coordinator, Office of Crime Victims Advocacy, Washington State: Collaborations across states and across the U.S.—and actually beyond that—are really important because we can learn what's worked in other states or other areas or territories, what hasn't. We can learn from certain experts in certain fields, so as not to duplicate efforts that maybe weren't really effective, and maybe try new and innovative ideas.
Jack Blakey: You really want to have a close working relationship between your prosecutors and your investigators. And by the same token, because our targets are, by definition, multijurisdictional, if we don't have a close working relationship with our federal partners, we're only going to see a piece of the puzzle.
Chris Newlin, Executive Director, National Children's Advocacy Center: The more that we can help share information and communicate with one another and coordinate our efforts, then I think the better off we can be, as far as effectively developing operational plans on how to work better together.
Jack Blakey: If you see something, say something. But in order to do that, you have to be able to recognize what you're seeing and you have to be able to know who to call. We've tried to have targeted outreach for specific stakeholders in the community—school professionals, emergency room professionals, cable and utility providers, truckers who are working the interstate highways, beat officers, highway patrol officers. Then the cases will come to us and to the task force. Very often, our best outcome is a victim recovery. Even if we can't prosecute the case, we can actually give that survivor an opportunity to escape the cycle of violence. In order to do that, they need a variety of services, whether it be mental health, educational, vocational, psychological help, legal help, immigration help, or the expungement of prior records. They're incredibly important for helping our survivors start a new part of their life.