LOS Angeles County is making significant progress in its efforts to end the sexual exploitation of children through a range of tactics, including expansion of first-responder protocols to the region’s largest police forces, targeting exploiters and buyers both on the streets and online, and expanding training to help County employees identify potential victims.
The progress was outlined in a new quarterly report was prepared for the Board of Supervisors by the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Integrated Leadership Team, a task force with representatives from the Probation Department, Department of Children and Family Services, and Sheriff’s Department. The report highlights progress made across four key areas:
- Expansion of First Responder Protocol: The County’s First Responder Protocol—which guides law enforcement, County agencies, and community partners on appropriate steps to take within the first 72 hours after they come into contact with a suspected victim—was fully expanded to include all Los Angeles Police Department, Long Beach Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department jurisdictions as of July 31, 2018. Rather than criminalizing victims, they are now surrounded with life-saving services and support. Efforts to expand the protocol to the 45 independent police departments will begin in 2019.
- Rescued and recovered victims: Since the launch of the First Responder Protocol in August 2014, Los Angeles and Long Beach police and the Sheriff’s Department have collectively helped rescue and recover 518 commercially sexually exploited youth in Los Angeles County, as of September 1, 2018.
- Holding exploiters and buyers accountable: Thanks to educational and preventative outreach, as well as advancements in technology, the Sheriff’s Department made headway in efforts to crack down on buyers and exploiters. During the second quarter of this year, 194 individuals were contacted by law enforcement after they established a sex-for-money agreement with an undercover decoy over the internet. In addition, the Department deployed a BOT system to communicate with 38 individuals who attempted to buy sex over the internet. The BOT informed the users that their phone number and information were captured by law enforcement. Through online and street-based stings, 49 males were arrested for soliciting sex—including nine who were seeking sex with a minor.
- Expansion of training reources: To put more eyes and ears in the community to identify possible trafficking victims, the County is training all 100,000 of its employees to identify warning signs. As of August 1, 2018, nearly 10,000 employees have completed the on-line training.