NJ works to curb sex trafficking before Super Bowl

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Jersey fears human trafficking, cranks up on Super Bowl

New Jersey fears human trafficking, cranks up on Super Bowl

The State of New Jersey has prepared to suppress sex trafficking before the big event commences by calling upon the help of everyone from the state.

Sex trafficking is one of the biggest crimes that law enforcement forces in New Jersey fight everyday and they look to redouble their efforts in preventing this by tasking everyone to join in defeating the crime.

New Jersey will become a boiling point for so many people this coming February 2 as it hosts one of America’s most awaited events – the Super Bowl.

The state’s accessibility to New York City, its extensive highway system, and the throngs of super fans coming in pre and post Super Bowl are big factors that will surely encourage traffickers to carry out the crime.

According to US Representative to New Jersey and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Anti-human trafficking Chris Smith, Super Bowl is one of those events where human trafficking mercilessly occurs and that this crime has always been New Jersey’s biggest problem.  He says the crime could go on several weeks after Super Bowl.

Response to the threat

The law enforcements in New Jersey prompted to increase their efforts to stop trafficking crime after some statistical studies and debates have concurred and pointed out that sexual traffic increases in areas where major sporting events occur. Although the numbers of these statistical studies and debates are low to make the claim conclusive, New Jersey officials still set up large- scale training to its law enforcement personnel. 

According to Danielle Douglas, a sex traffic survivor and now an advocate against the crime, major sports events in the country regardless if it’s Super Bowl, the Olympics, or the World Series generally attract traffickers who are looking to make BIG money. She also added that not all of those who come to see the event are fans or interested in the game they’re watching. Some of them are just looking to have sex with women, men, or children. 

When it was announced that the 2014 Super Bowl will be held in MetLife Stadium, New Jersey officials cranked up its preparation by raising awareness against sex trafficking and launching an elaborate training for people, may it be from the law enforcement department, the hospitals, high schools, the airport, and more so each and every one can do their part in the battle against sexual trafficking. Even the church chimed in by handing out fliers that warn its members about the dangers of trafficking and the signs to look out for. Even truck drivers are trained to look for people, especially women, who might be held against their will. 

New Jersey Attorney General’s Office also redefined the prosecution of sex trafficking by saying it not only involves the buyer and the seller of sex; it also involves the trafficker or the “pimp” who is making the negotiations. 

Attorney General John J Hoffman said they have enlisted every personnel that everyone who’s going to attend the Super Bowl will run into just to make sure that they have enough eyes during the event to watch for potential victims. 

His office also called together the Super Bowl task force, which is made up of the state, the local, and even the federal law enforcement agencies. They also enlisted the help of community groups, social workers, the schools, the church, and more. Basically, they have invited everyone to become agents to prevent the crime from happening.

John Molinelli, the Bergen County Prosecutor, said the Super Bowl would be abused in a way that prostitution will become rampant, particularly because over 400,000 people will be coming in. That’s why they have made an effort to raise awareness by putting ads on the Internet about the issue so other law enforcement officials can obtain more information from them. 

The officials have also alerted the public by encouraging them to be on the constant lookout for people who are forced to work and for people who are exploiting young women and young men especially the under age. 

Other efforts

The Polaris Project, a non-profit organization working to fight off human trafficking, reports that in 2012, they received 20,652 calls reporting the crime – 330 of these calls came from New Jersey. This is according to its CEO Bradley Myles. 

Myles also said that it is difficult to really know the exact number of human trafficking cases in a place or in a year because most are unrecorded or unreported. However, he said the fact that it’s a rampant occurring in the US makes it very alarming more than what the statistics can show. 

In line with that, the organization plans to add more people in their hotline on February despite a minor increase of calls during the 2013 Super Bowl

Just last December, Kathleen Friess, the Human Trafficking Task Force Program Coordinator, Division of Criminal Justice, showed a comprehensive presentation on what human trafficking looks like. Friess said it would look like there’s a local woman who is forced to do sexual work by a man whom she previously thought as her lover. There are also instances where there’s a foreign woman who has her family threatened to force her into submission.

She urged employees of the hotel and nightclub in Hamilton Township to lend their hand and help identify the victims who would look like they’re not in control, very frightened, and may be showing signs that they’re under extreme physical abuse. These young victims could look like they’ve run away, they’re impoverished, and they’re one of those illegal aliens in the country. 

As a response to the wide-opening presentation, the security manager of the Grand Summit Hotel said he would reproduce the contents of the presentation and distribute it among his staff. He said he and the entire hotel has been preparing for any crime outbreak during the super Bowl week. 

In other states such as Indiana, Texas, and Louisiana, the fight against human trafficking has already been initiated. In 2015, Super Bowl will be held in Arizona, which is why they’ve already strengthened their laws to convict violators. 

The State of New Jersey is now appealing when its efforts to fortify the law against human trafficking failed. In 2013, the State of New Jersey sought to make their law stronger. However, it hit a wall back in August because a federal judge deemed that some parts of the law would conflict with federal legislation. The said part refers to the law’s commercial sex ads posted over the Internet. 


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