The Los Angeles City Council appropriated $100,000 Tuesday toward an LAPD task force to address what Councilman Mitch O’Farrell described as an uptick in human trafficking and prostitution near schools, daycares and residential properties along Santa Monica Boulevard and Western Avenue in East Hollywood.
O’Farrell filed a motion last week to request the funding, which would be appropriated from his office’s budget. It would provide what his office described as a “services-led approach” for women being trafficked.
A speaker who identified himself as Lionel Mares told the council Tuesday that he was worried the money would be used to further criminalize sex work.
“Many of these women go online, so they’re always going to find ways to do their work,” Mares said. “So the city’s just wasting money on this rather than investing money on programs that will prevent it from happening in the first place.”
O’Farrell responded by calling the remarks “misunderstanding and disinformation,” claiming that the task force’s goal was to help victims of human trafficking.
“You better believe we want to arrest the johns and the pimps who are trafficking these women,” O’Farrell said. “So that’s what the money is for and that’s what the coordination will be.”
Reports into O’Farrell’s office of human trafficking and prostitution in the area have increased significantly in recent months, according to a statement from his office.
Journey Out, a nonprofit that helps sex trafficking victims — and is a component of the LAPD task force — would provide the outreach services, his office said.
“The most vulnerable among us need our investment,” O’Farrell said. “They need our protections, and that is a sacred duty among us as city leaders.”