One of our core components in the fight against human trafficking is education. We devote significant resources to teaching kids to stay safe and work with parents to find practical ways to protect their children. We help communities see the importance of banding together against human trafficking. All of that education would be worthless if the men and women sworn to protect us weren’t equipped to carry on the fight.
On January 30, 2017, ERASE held its first Law Enforcement Human Trafficking Training at the Aventura Police Department in South Florida. Over the following year, we put on additional classes in North Carolina, New Jersey, California, and New York. In that short span of time, over 175 local, state, tribal, and federal agencies have sent personnel to learn how to effectively combat human trafficking in their communities.
In the past year, we’ve seen incredible results. Hundreds of law enforcement officers have learned to see this epidemic through new eyes and are already making tangible strides in recovering victims and bringing criminals to justice. Because our passion goal is to see them experience even more success, we’ve gathered as much feedback as possible from our participants at the end of each class.
Thanks to that feedback, we’ve made some exciting changes to our Advanced Human Trafficking Investigations Law Enforcement Course.
The course uses the Trauma-Informed Approach to provide officers and agents with core principles and best practices on how to identify and investigate human trafficking cases.
After taking this course, officers will be able to…
- understand human trafficking, as laid out in the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) along with applicable state laws.
- deploy a victim-centered approach to identifying and interviewing trafficking victims.
- utilize a wide array of resources—digital, organizational, and otherwise—to investigate human trafficking and related crimes.
- create a systematic approach to human trafficking investigations.
- connect victims of human trafficking with government benefits and services available through local non-profits.
- organize proactive human trafficking investigations.
- effectively educate and engage their communities, and to create a community task force against human trafficking.
We have two veteran law enforcement officers with extensive experience in human trafficking investigations instructing the course.
Major Rick Hoffman, Raleigh Police Department (ret.)
A 24-year veteran of law enforcement, Rick Hoffman has worked in every division of the Raleigh Police Department, as well as with the district attorney’s office as an investigator. He has over 17 years of experience training officers as a certified police instructor.
Hoffman’s ongoing passion is to develop collaborative anti-human trafficking operations over a range of state, local, and federal agencies. As the Human Trafficking Coordinator in Raleigh, he was responsible for developing a consistent and proactive response to trafficking cases. Even in retirement, Hoffman serves as a consultant with multiple law enforcement agencies and victim service providers.
A native Spanish speaker, Hoffman possesses a unique opportunity to reach out to and connect with Spanish speaking victims of human trafficking. He’s heavily involved with creating public awareness in Raleigh and is a member of the city’s Rapid Response team.
Special Agent Victor Williams, ICE/HSI (ret.)
Victor Williams is a respected figure in law enforcement with over 30 years of domestic and international experience. He joined the U.S. Customs Service in 1991, which later reorganized into the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2003.
In February 2011, Williams was assigned to the Office of the Special Agent in Charge Miami, Human Trafficking Group. There, he served as the Coordinator for the South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force until his retirement in December 2017. During that time, he coordinated a vast number of human trafficking cases with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, along with the help of various non-governmental and faith-based organizations.
Williams has traveled to the International Law Enforcement Academies in Hungary, Botswana, and Vietnam to educate law enforcement officers from all over the world on how to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute traffickers. He’s helped police departments and prosecuting attorneys in the Bahamas and Jamaica to establish their own anti-trafficking programs
A Community Effort
With over 21 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, this fight is far bigger than any one organization. That’s why community collaboration is so important to everything we do. In our course, we encourage officers and agents to work with partnering agencies and non-profits. Together they can educate communities, engage neighbors, and create a communal task force dedicated to identifying and rooting out trafficking.
In each class we collaborate with human trafficking survivors, experts, guest speakers, and organizations, to provide invaluable information and tools for the participant. NGOs and companies, like Aequitas, Thorn, and Callyo, help bring the most up to date resources and provide law enforcement officers with state of the art digital tools for recovering victims, identifying offenders, and developing successful cases.
A Difference Officers Can See
Principles and practices are great for the classroom, but without tangible results out in the field, they never leave the realm of theory. To facilitate that transition we spend a great deal of time on practical exercises. Over and again, we’ve used these exercises to uncover human trafficking and related crimes in the officers’ community. As a result of lessons learned, warrants have been written, cases have been initiated, and victims have been recovered.
This is what makes the difference in our human trafficking training. Whatever their perspective on the realities of human trafficking, officers can’t help but leave the course clear-eyed about the problem. The change is mindset has them ready to roll their sleeves up and get to work in the fight.
How You Can Help
You do not have to be a police officer to help stop human trafficking in your neighborhood. Although our training is free for officers, each course represents a significant investment on our part. We’ve encountered a great demand for this training and have several departments on a waitlist. Through your donations, we can help bring our training to new areas. If you’d like to know more about how you can help us train officers, click here.