Police Combat Local Human Trafficking with Education, Enforcement
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Fort Collins Police recently conducted a Human Trafficking Demand Reduction Operation that attracted hundreds of men looking to buy sexual services.
Prostitution is often connected with human trafficking, illegal drug usage and sales, and violent crimes. Police hope to reduce these issues by making Fort Collins a difficult market for soliciting or selling sexual services.
In a continuing effort to fight human trafficking, Fort Collins Police recently conducted a one-day operation targeting buyers. FCPS officers placed ads in the escort sections of common buy/sell/trade websites. A total of 282 potential clients responded to the ads, and 11 men scheduled appointments to pay for various sexual services. When they arrived at the agreed-upon hotel, they were met by officers instead of sex workers. In total, these men had agreed to spend $1,825 in exchange for sexual acts.
“There's a general misconception that prostitution is a harmless activity between consenting adults,” said Officer Laura Knudsen, a member of the Neighborhood Enforcement Team who focuses on regional human trafficking issues. “In reality, women often start being trafficked at a young age, and many are controlled with physical abuse, psychological manipulation, and substance dependency."
FCPS partners with Free Our Girls, a local non-profit that connects prostituted women with resources to escape this traumatic lifestyle. As part of an ongoing demand-reduction strategy, officers also work with a local therapist to host of the First Offender Restoration Initiative, also known as a “John School." This program is designed to educate men charged with soliciting sexual services. During the 8-hour course, presenters challenge the myth that prostitution is a “victimless crime” by sharing data about the realities of prostitution and sex trafficking in Northern Colorado. National research estimates that:
- 90% of prostituted women were victims of childhood sexual abuse
- 89% were younger than 16 when they were first forced to sell sex
- 96% were runaway youth
- Women leaving the sex trade have post-traumatic stress disorder at rates almost two times higher than combat veterans
Police plan to continue enforcement efforts at various locations around Fort Collins and will keep adapting their approach as this underground marketplace evolves. To learn more about human trafficking in Northern Colorado, visit http://larimerantitrafficking.com.
All charges are simply an accusation by law enforcement officers, and all parties must be presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.
For more information about Free Our Girls, contact aW5mb0BmcmVlb3VyZ2lybHMub3Jn.
For information about the F.O.R.I. program, contact aW5mb0ByZXN0b3JhdGlvbmNvdW5zZWxpbmdub2NvLmNvbQ==.