Press releases / News

SUDS PROGRAM DISTRIBUTES SOAP AND POSTERS ON WATER FOLLIES WEEKEND

This year FREED ran the SUDS program in late July, distributing a record number of posters and bars of soap in the Tri-Cities area.

SUDS stands for “Stopping Underage Domestic Sex trafficking.” FREED takes posters of missing girls, brochures with sex trafficking info and identifiers, and bars of soap with the National Trafficking Hotline to local hotels and motels during Water Follies Weekend (Hydroplane Races) when many tourists come to the area. During our 2014 3rd Annual SUDS Outreach, 27 hotels and motels participated, and over 5000 bars of soap were distributed.

Also in 2014, FREED added a complimentary dinner and informational seminar in conjunction with TC-CAT, on local sex trafficking, and invited hoteliers from around the Tri-Cities. Around 25 hoteliers from eight hotels attended, and heard from Det. Harrington, Benton County Assistant Prosecutor Laurel Whittier, and SARC Director JoDee Garretson.

For Additional information about the SUDS program contact Amber Bruce at Freed509@gmail.com.

 

NARRATIVE: INHOSPITABLE TO TRAFFICKING PROJECT

The Inhospitable to Trafficking project aims to increase the number of lodging establishments that assist in prevention and reporting of sex trafficking. The project builds on existing resources to create recommendations, training, and tools that will be effective at the county level. The project was started in partnership with the Washington Lodging Association and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. To date we have had over 500 participants in 5 counties in Washington state.

 

TRI-CITIES LAW ENFORCEMENT LEADING CHARGE AGAINST SEX TRAFFICKING
By Davis Wahlman Published: Apr 18, 2014 at 4:46 PM PDT RICHLAND, Wash. -

- Tri-Cities became the first community in the state to adopt a local protocol for sex trafficking of minors. The "Tri-Cities Coalition Against Trafficking" held the signing event in Richland Friday. The coalition worked with law enforcement to create a more cohesive approach to solving sex crimes. Members from each agencies signed the protocol. "Without the willingness to be in a relationship with one another for a common purpose, you don't get to where we are today and I think it should be a real moment for the Tri-Cities to be proud of that we're the first in the state," says Richland Police Chief Chris Skinner. Officers say the protocol will help all law enforcement agencies work together in tackling sex-trafficking crimes involving minors. New Protocols in Place to Deal with Child Sex Trafficking Cases in Tri-Cities

By Tracci Diel, News Anchor. Published Friday, April 18th, 2014

RICHLAND, WA - Sex trafficking kids isn't necessarily a major problem in the Tri-Cities but that's the point of a new partnership. It's called the Tri-Cities Coalition Against Trafficking and a who's who of local and state leaders kicked it off on Friday.

This is the first such partnership of its kind in Washington and that is a big accomplishment. Around 20 people, including local sheriff's, police chiefs, prosecutors and non-profit leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding today. It's a document that explains what each piece of the puzzle should do when investigating a potential child sex trafficking case. The collaboration is the real key to making it all work in this pro-active rather than reactive approach.

"This is exactly the way this is supposed to work. You identify a need in the community, you get the right people to the table to solve that need and you do it from a holistic, 360-degree approach," said Richland Police Chief, Chris Skinner.

"We're all here for the victim, regardless of the specific role that we play. By having everything highlighted in the protocol, we can remember what that role is, we know exactly what to do should and emergency situation come up. We can refer to it and it helps to train people back in our own agencies, too," said JoDee Garretson, the co-chair and director of SARC.

This new protocol to deal with sex trafficking cases should make it easier to track the problem. Right now, we're told it's largely under-reported and because there has not been a plan of action, victims are not likely to come forward. Now, that is expected to change.

 

KVEW NEWS - TRI-CITIES FIRST TO CREATE SEX TRAFFICKING PROTOCOL

By Katherine Hessel. Published Friday, April 18th, 2014

The Tri-Cities made history today by signing the first co-operative protocol to combat sex trafficking of minors in the state of Washington. This protocol was signed by all of the law enforcement agencies in the area, the county prosecutors, social services and advocacy groups. Richland Police Chief Chris Skinner said the Tri-Cities coalition against trafficking made this protocol because they can see indicators of sex trafficking in the area and want to be proactive on the issue. The Tri-Cities coalition against trafficking started creating this protocol in 2012. All of the agencies gave their input and they were able to figure out what would work and what would not. Local experts said the crime of minors being sex trafficked is under reported. One of the goals of this protocol is to provide a more accurate number of how many minors are trafficked.

 

AWARE PRESENTATIONS ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND PORNOGRAPHY FOR STUDENTS

Delta; River's Edge; a Juvenile Rehabilitation home in Yakima; Kamiakin High School; Tri-Tech Teen Parent Program; the Juvenile Justice Center; Horse Heaven Hills Middle School and Desert Hills Middle School...serving just over 1,000 youth with Deceptions and/or Illusions.

In addition, presentations have been made to the following adult groups: Benton-Franklin Health Nurses; Regional School Nurses; Kamiakin Staff; staff at the Boys and Girls Club, Juvenile Justice Center staff. So far, this has impacted approximately 200 adults. [Story added February 2014]

 

SARC OF THE TRI-CITIES RELEASES FIRST HUMAN TRAFFICKING STATISTICS.

In the last six months Support Advocacy Resource Center (SARC), which began identifying and tracking human trafficking victims separately from other sexual assault crimes, gave their first ever numbers for July through Dec 31—2013: SARC provided services to two identified victims of child sexual exploitation and have organized and facilitated 7 MDT (multi-disciplinary teams) meetings for suspected victims of trafficking. Additionally SARC facilitated a total of 43 presentations to an audience of 1,393. [Story added February 2014]

 

TC-CAT WAS SELECTED AS PILOT SITE FOR NEW STATE PROTOCOL SCREENING TOOL

Members of the Tri-Cities Coalition Against Trafficking met with Dr. Sarah Veele, Senior Research Associate

Washington State Center for Court Research, in late November to provide input on proposed State Wide screening tool potential CSEC youth. The group trained on the proposed tool and took it back to their respective work places/organizations and then put the screening tool to the test. Their subsequent input back to Dr. Veele has shaped the tool and changed how it will be used state-wide. The revised tool will again be reviewed by members of TC-CAT this spring. Additionally based on input and suggestions from coalition members the entire pilot test of the screening tool has been revised to be more practical within existing organizations that screen at risk youth. Our thanks to the coalition members that participated and provided their input and thoughts to shape this important tool for the state. [Story added February 2014]

 

LOCAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING DOCUMENTARY ORIGINALLY AIRED OCTOBER 2013

A Human Trafficking documentary highlighting the issue in the Tri-Cities was aired Wednesday October 11th and October 13th on Northwest Public Television, and aired again in Novemebr 2013. The documentary was sponsored by the Tri-Cities Coalition against trafficking.View Full Documentary here. [Story added February 2014]

 

FIRST RESPONDER TRAINING DRAWS 70 TO LEARN ABOUT THE STATE

PROTOCOL AND DISCUSS IMPLEMENTATION IN THE TRI-CITIES AREA.

Pasco,WA

70 first responders to commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) attended two day training on the new state protocol to combat CSEC at Columbia Basin College in Pasco on June 10 and 11th. The training was led by child sexual exploitation and domestic minor sex trafficking expert Leslie Briner, of Youth Care in Seattle.

The first responders, representing a broad range of agencies and services that work with children, included law enforcement from Richland, Pasco, Kennewick, West Richland, Benton County and the Franklin County Sheriff, medical experts from hospitals and clinics, ESD 123, mental health professionals from numerous programs, DSHS, CPS, Detention, Prosecution, Attorney General’s office and faith based and not for profit groups. (See below for a complete list of agencies attending.)

The training was sponsored by the Tri-Cities Coalition against Trafficking (TC-CAT). Donations to support the training were made by community partners including Columbia Basin College, Country Gentleman Catering, Soroptimist groups, Faith Justice Network, and Freed Ministry. The Center for Children and Youth Justice awarded the Tri-Cities one of five state wide trainings after the TC-CAT applied for a grant to receive the training in our area. Training of local first responders was the first major goal established by the coalition when it formed in 2012.

The attendees worked through case studies, learned indicators of domestic minor sex trafficking, gang trafficking and the ways in which youth are lured and manipulated into these illegal activities. Those present learned techniques to reduce trafficking and how to apprehend traffickers and build cases that lead to convictions.

“All of the right people were there; all the frontline providers—it is awesome to see the right people getting the same information so we can work together collaboratively,” said licensed mental health therapist Jamie Brault. “This should have a very positive impact on combating human trafficking in our community. It is something we’ve all been hoping and waiting for.”

Nikki Wood, Prevention Services Administrator for ESD 123 said, “Providing this information and training will enable us to get this information out to other educators and people in the community who are very involved with students; it will enable them to pick up the cues that a student is being exploited or at risk of being exploited—whereas those nuances might have gotten past them previously as they were talking and listening.”

TC-CAT plans to continue to offer the training so that all those who work directly with youth will have the knowledge to combat trafficking from all fronts. If you are a first responder and interested in attending an upcoming training please contact Betty Adams at bla60@charter.net.

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