Los Angeles city law enforcement agencies have teamed up with the federal government on a public awareness and training campaign to combat human trafficking, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Thursday.
Garcetti, who was joined by Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas at a City Hall news conference Thursday, said law enforcement and others will receive training to help them stop the “barbaric practice” of human trafficking.
The campaign also teaches regular Angelenos how to be more aware of when human trafficking is occurring.
“We will not tolerate anyone who would exploit another human being for profit in Los Angeles,” Garcetti said. “We can all play a role in banishing human trafficking from our city, but it is too often hidden in plain sight.”
The primary victims of trafficking are “often women and children in crisis — people who are suffering from severe trauma, and trapped in desperate situations where violence and coercion are used to force them into labor or prostitution,” he said.
Mayorkas called the agreement a “unique, inclusive partnership in Los Angeles that serves as a model for the nation in the critical fight against this crime.”
Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who has sought to focus more attention on rescuing victims of human sex traffickers in her district, said that the agreement “is a huge step forward for the victims of sex trafficking.”
“Every night on the streets of Los Angeles, there are women and girls who are bought and sold,” Martinez said. “That is not OK. We must employ every tool at our disposal to arrest those who buy and sell our girls, and we must rescue the victims of this awful crime.”
The Los Angeles Police Department is already part of a regional task force focusing on human trafficking, and trains EMTs as well as hospital, hotel and motel staff to understand when human trafficking is taking place. Housing, building inspectors, gang prevention and intervention workers are also being trained.
–City News Service