In this episode, the Red X Podcast hosts Margaret Henderson from the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on how local governments can be a part of the anti-trafficking movement. Also, Nicole explains how the Department of Homeland Security is combating trafficking.
Nicole Bernard, host of the Red X and director of Shield North Carolina talks about her recent trip to India.
Lance’s wife, Cheryl travels professionally and had a recent trip to Egypt where she rode a camel.
Niki Miller co-hosts with Lance and tells the story of how she hurt her knee while jumping at a local extreme sports center.
The US Department of Homeland security has brought together law enforcement, government, non-governmental and private organizations to collaborate in anti-human trafficking efforts. This unified voice is The Blue Campaign, which not only creates more public awareness about trafficking, but it also provides curriculum to train law enforcement and others to be able to better identify and respond to trafficking.
The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for the investigation of trafficking cases, arrest of traffickers and the protection of victim. The department wants to be victim-centered in their approach. Helping a victim feel safe and secure during part of an investigation is not only important for someone who has experienced high levels of trauma, having a stabilized victim also facilitates the investigative process and helps better prosecute the trafficker to end the crime. Homeland Security also provides immigration relief to non-US citizens of trafficking.
In addition to Homeland Security, The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons brings together a rich collaboration between citizens, government entities, faith based organizations and first responders to collaborate on ending trafficking and identifying and responding to victims.
The Red X welcomes Margaret Henderson from the UNC at Chapel Hill School of Government who works with local municipal governments. She has helped non-governmental and governmental organizations work together in anti-trafficking initiatives. Margaret Henderson discovered early on that she wanted to work in public service. She had a stint as a dog groomer and worked a few days in a bank and then in west Texas to work in AFDC in food stamps as well as a non-profit. When she moved to North Carolina she learned she would need to get a master’s degree to do the same work so she went to UNC to get a master’s in public administration. Then she directed the Rape Crisis Center in Orange County and had the opportunity to work at UNC in the school of government. Working at the Rape Crisis Center set her up well to learn about human trafficking with Project No Rest, which is housed in the school of social work at UNC. Initially they were trying to focus on child trafficking but had to expand to all areas of trafficking. They set up 5 pilot sites across the state. Of approximately 400 individuals screen, about 300 were either definitely victims or highly likely to be trafficking victim.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the most effective means of combatting trafficking must happen at the community level. Approaching the topic can be difficult as mostly middle class men drive demand. It makes it difficult when we may be combatting against people we know or work with from purchasing. From a data perspective, it’s important to have the numbers of the truth of what trafficking looks like. We have Hollywood and our own biases of what it looks like, but this may be anecdotal and not based on the reality of what trafficking looks like.
More information on how local governments can combat trafficking can be found here: https://www.sog.unc.edu/publications/bulletins/exploring-intersections-between-local-governments-and-human-trafficking-local-government-focus-group
Another resource is a public management bulletin to provide background information on trafficking for local officials: https://www.sog.unc.edu/publications/bulletins/ten-questions-about-local-governments-primer-anti%E2%80%93human-trafficking-advocates
To learn more about the structure of municipal governments, visit the School of Government at UNC. Elected officials don’t have to solve the problem but can encourage professional staff to get training and produce reports. The power as convener is significant. As an example, if you don’t have a rapid response team you could help encourage one to get started. Of course, obvious departments to work with include law enforcement, the department of social services, child protective services, but there are other areas to include that may not be as intuitive. It’s important to look at the 25 different business models of trafficking that Polaris came out with to help determine how best to approach trafficking. EMTs, firefighters and inspectors are on the front lines and yet may not have proper training to identify trafficking. Librarians often work with vulnerable populations and are an untapped resource in identifying exploitation. Once you help people identify the signs, people will acknowledge they have seen it in the past but may not have known what it was. Also Procurement Departments are another area to look into. Local governments purchase all sorts of products so it is important to help them support fair labor practices.
There are a variety of agencies that could come together for a rapid response team including law enforcement and DSS, mental health clinics, regular service providers, and rape crisis response. Trafficking victims have multiple challenges and need multiple law enforcement offices because predators move across geographic areas. In order for the victim to cooperate with law enforcement, he or she would need to be on stable ground and feel safe to be in a place to have them cooperate and testify. There could be federal or state funding or foundation funding to pay for the rapid response team. It’s also important to have proper protocol for departments and for those protocols to be victim-centered. As one example, it is important to identify a procedure for schools who identify a victim to not have a victim have to repeat their story to multiple people in the initial reporting so that they are re-traumatized and refuse to tell anymore by the time they meet with law-enforcement. If you are in an area where there aren’t services, you may have to have the conversation over and over to network and collectively planning.