New Jersey State Police contacted Rockland County government
officials about expected illegal activities resulting from the 2014 Super
Bowl. The county is in the direct
economic impact zone of the popular sporting event. But there is a darker side
to the Super Bowl that is also expected in Rockland – an increase in sex
trafficking particularly of young females.
“The New Jersey State Police came to us under recommendations of other police departments that have had to deal with these issues before,” said Carolyn Fish, executive director of the Center For Safety & Change.
In response, Rockland officials have prepared a series of training programs for first responders, police officers and EMTs and hotel and motel employees to alert them to the signs of sex trafficking of minors. Officials spoke about the Super Bowl and the county’s preparation at a Monday press conference on Domestic Violence Awareness.
“We have a big problem and we’re gong to be prepared to deal with it when it comes down,” said District Attorney Thomas Zugibe.
Legislative Chairwoman Harriet Cornell said sex trafficking is associated with large-scale events.
“The people who are being trafficked are often children,” she said. “They’re young girls. They can be young boys. They can be young women. Many of them are not there out of choice. They’re there because they belong to someone. They’re owned by someone and this is what they have to do.”
Fish said 300,000 children each year are at risk for being sexually exploited. Many of them have been abducted or are runaways and about 77 percent of them are between the ages of 12 and 14. She said the industry is growing and that former drug dealers have switched to sex trafficking.
The training programs are free and open to the public. On October 30, the session on “Human Trafficking and the 2014 Super Bowl” takes place at Good Samaritan Hospital from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. On November 1, the Annual Stop FEAR Conference presents “A Perspective on Human Trafficking for Investigators and Front Line Officers” at Rockland Community College from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. More information about the programs can be found here.
Fish urged people to call the police or the district attorney’s office if they see something out of the ordinary around the time of the February 2, 2014 Super Bowl.
“Every one of us can possibly save a life,” she said.
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