2017-02-15 / Front Page

O’Neill Turns Up Heat On Sex Traffickers

By Liz Goff
More than two-dozen detectives from commands throughout the city have been reassigned to the Citywide Vice Enforcement Unit to beef up the NYPDs ongoing effort to combat human trafficking in New York City.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill announced the initiative last week, and said that patrol officers at local precincts would also be trained to better identify the warning signs of human trafficking.

The NYPD defines human trafficking as a crime that occurs when one person is exploited for the personal or financial gain of another.

O’Neill also unveiled a new dedicated hotline that will allow victims to report human trafficking, and will give friends and family members a way to report suspected trafficking of their loved one.

“Assigning additional detectives, creating a dedicated tip line, and providing additional training for police officers in patrol will help the department combat human trafficking in and around New York City,” O’Neill said.

Under the initiative, police will also place greater emphasis on pimps and johns to develop more long-term cases against those who buy and sell people for sex, O’Neill said.

Police officials said human traffickers usually target victims who live in poverty and those with no family support system. Sex traffickers have operated for decades along Roosevelt Avenue in Corona and Jackson Heights, police officials said.

“Victims in my community who frequently are undocumented women and/or transgender individuals are being abused for someone else’s profit,” City Councilmember Julissa Ferreras-Copeland said. “We must protect them from violent and cruel treatment. By adding this hotline and deploying specially trained officers to combat sex trafficking, we are taking a crucial step toward ending this shameful practice,” Ferreras-Copeland said.

“This investment will not only protect lives, but will keep our communities healthier and safer.”

Ferreras-Copeland has long been calling for a new NYPD Roosevelt Avenue Task Force to combat criminal activity on the troubled commercial strip – one similar to a highly successful NYPD Task Force that operated on Roosevelt Avenue in the mid-1990s. 


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