area agencies will share $1 million grant to combat human trafficking
St. Louis, MO – The Saint Louis County Police Department and St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department will share the proceeds of a $1 million U.S. Department of Justice grant with three local social service providers to serve victims and enhance the prosecution of human trafficking crimes in the Eastern District of Missouri. These two law enforcement agencies are members of the U.S Attorney’s Office Human Trafficking Task Force in the Eastern District of Missouri. The Task Force also includes local civilian social service partners, known as the RESTeam (Rescue Service Team).
The Saint Louis-based International Institute, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and the YWCA Sexual Assault Center are the three RESTeam members who joined forces with the Saint Louis County Police Department and St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department to apply for this competitive award, which was sponsored by the DOJ Office of Victims of Crime and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The funds will be distributed over two years.
The 2013 grant, which is called the Enhanced Collaborative Model to Combat Human Trafficking, was established in 2010 and was awarded this year to only six applicant groups across the United States. This year is the first time that recipients from the Eastern District of Missouri have been chosen to receive the grant.
“With these funds, we will be able to serve up to 150 victims of human trafficking, whether they are victims of sex or labor trafficking and whether they are U.S. citizens or foreign-born. We look forward to collaborating with our law enforcement partners to more effectively serve victims of these crimes and support prosecution of the traffickers,” said Suzanne LeLaurin, Senior Vice-President for Individuals and Families, International Institute of St. Louis.
“The St. Louis County Police Department along with the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department have been battling the issues of human trafficking in the St. Louis County/ St. Charles County area for several years and have been successful in rescuing adult and child victims of trafficking,” said Sergeant Adam Kavanaugh, Deputy Commander Missouri Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Kavanaugh added that these funds will be used to add local police personnel and more training for local law enforcement to better identify the indicators of human trafficking in our area.
Lieutenant Chris Mateja of the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department said, “The St. Louis County Police Department and St. Charles County Sheriff's Department will work closely with our federal partners to insure that traffickers do not find a safe haven in the Eastern District of Missouri.”