A new app will help fight human trafficking in New Jersey
🔴 A new app to fight human trafficking is being developed
🔴 The app will help law enforcement investigate sex and forced labor trafficking
🔴 Human trafficking is described as a $150 billion-a-year criminal enterprise
Federal homeland security officials and researchers at Montclair State University are developing an app and website aimed at combating human trafficking.
Treia Boozier, a 23-year-old who left an abusive home when she was 16 and became a victim of sex trafficking, now works with the Global Center on Human Trafficking at Montclair State University and speaks to young people around the country about the issue.
She helped to get her own trafficker convicted and sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence.
Scared for her life
Boozier said the work by law enforcement officials gives her a measure of comfort.
“Every day I am fearful for my life," she says now. "I’m fearful that he’s going to get out, I’m fearful he’s going to contact somebody and try to kill me.”
Ali Boak, the director of the Global Center on Human Trafficking, said more must be done to combat human trafficking, a criminal enterprise estimated to generate $150 billion a year in profits.
She said when the app targeting human trafficking is finished and operational, “more victims will be identified; more victims will be referred for appropriate services and supports; and importantly, more traffickers will be behind bars.”
Cases can slip through the cracks
Boak said many times cases of human trafficking slip through the cracks because law enforcement agencies may not understand how to deal with what she described as a very complex crime.
“You often can’t identify it in just one meeting of a situation, it often takes a lot of intelligence, a lot of investigation, a lot of interviewing.”
Boak said the app is being designed to help law enforcement better understand and deal with suspected human trafficking situations and it will contain short videos.
“If they want to interview someone about potential trafficking they don’t have to go on Google and say how do I interview a victim of human trafficking," she said.
“If you need to collect evidence on the scene in that moment, there will be a short video on how do you collect evidence. It will also have very important contact information because these are very specialized investigations.”
All the tools in one single app
She said the app will have “all the tools, resources, directory contact information, state of the art tech tools, things that law enforcement need in the moment to actually do something.”
Boak said the first phase of the project, which should be completed later this year, will produce an app and website exclusively for law enforcement, but eventually she expects to develop an app for the general public to use as well.
Human trafficking is a horrible crime
Ricky Patel, special agent in charge of the New Jersey office of Homeland Security Investigations, the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said the development of this new app will be very beneficial.
“Human trafficking is a horrific crime, whether it be sex and or labor trafficking we are here to say it will not be tolerated,” he said, “we will use every resource available to us to investigate and prosecute those engaged in this appalling crime.”
He said to be able to do that strong public-private partnerships are needed across all sectors and law enforcement must be involved at all levels.
The national Human Trafficking hotline number is 1-888-373-7888.
The news conference also featured Jonathan Koppell, the president of Montclair State University, Phillip Sellinger, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Colonel Pat Callahan, the Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, Esther Suarez, Hudson County Prosecutor, Theodore Stephens, Essex County Prosecutor, and Fritz Frage, the Newark Director of Public Safety.
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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