Global Hope 365 Partners with Local Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force
Date: January 18, 2019
Byline: Anna Bryan
Today is Friday, January 18, 2019, approximately 10 days after Global Hope 365’s Inaugural Fundraiser was held in Newport Beach. Jay Short, Deputy Chief of the Newport Beach Police Department provided an overview of his Department’s cooperation with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (“OCHTTF”). Orange County police officers are receiving training on how to identify and rescue victims of human trafficking.
Rima Nashashibi, Global Hope 365’s founder, is visiting the OCHTTF offices located within the Anaheim Police Department in Anaheim. Rima’s first meeting is with Linh Tran, OCHTTF Administrator. The OCHTTF is a partnership between the local Orange County police departments, the District Attorney’s Office, and charitable organizations dedicated to the rehabilitation of human trafficking victims. Linh Tran serves as the liaison to encourage cooperation between the partners to ensure communication. Rima and Linh discussed California Proposition 35 the prevailing law in California which directly addresses human trafficking. Proposition 35 passed in November 2012 and mandated that law enforcement in California be trained to identify victims of human trafficking. Proposition 35 also protects victims in court proceedings. Rima is impressed with the trauma-informed approach and facilities at OCHTTF. Victims of human trafficking are interviewed in a room that looks more like a comfortable living room in contrast to police interrogation rooms were human trafficking victims were historically interviewed. Proposition 35 made enormous progress in helping rehabilitate victims of human trafficking and stiffen penalties for traffickers. The question is, did it go far enough? Rima would argue it is time for deeper protections for victims and stiffer penalties for human trafficking offenders including the ones buying sex from these victims and minors.
Rima next meets with Sergeant Juan Reveles of the Special Operations Division of the Anaheim Police Department. Sgt. Reveles has run the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force since August 2014. Sgt. Reveles explains the factors that make Orange County a human trafficking hotspot. Orange County is what is called a “demand county” because it has a large tourist industry and thus a large hotel industry. The police departments patrol hotels and “massage parlors”. In addition, officers are trained to look for victims “hiding in plain sight”. Traffickers and pimps can move in and out of hotels with ease. Tourists pay for sex. As of now perpetrators that pay for sex are only charged with a misdemeanor. Rima asks what actions would deter human traffickers. Senator Pat Bates sent SB 900 to the Governor in September 2018 but it failed. SB 900 would have facilitated financial compensation to victims. Rima prefers an approach that stiffens penalties for traffickers and men who buy sex to disrupt the industry in addition to the financial compensation for victims.
The OCHTTF is stepping up community outreach efforts. The task force has garnered significant support from church groups in Orange County and is intending to expand that program to create an interfaith coalition. Rima agrees the awareness efforts are necessary, but her sights are set on greater penalties and a national registry. Today men can buy sex from a child and receive only a misdemeanor.
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