July 30, 2021 – Law Enforcement, Community Leaders, and Advocates Support Attorney General Herring’s Requested Funding for Expanded Human Trafficking Initiatives

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Commonwealth of Virginia

Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring

Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street

Richmond, Virginia 23219


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RICHMOND (July 30, 2021) – Today, law enforcement, community leaders, and advocates from around the Commonwealth voiced their support for Attorney General Herring’s request for funds to be included in the introduced budget to expand the Office of Attorney General’s human trafficking initiatives into other jurisdictions. Attorney General Herring is proposing $2 million from the American Rescue Plan to create additional human trafficking teams that will allow the OAG to hire support staff and expand its human trafficking initiatives across Virginia.


“The Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force has been very successful in combating human trafficking in the region, and much of this success can be attributed to the collaboration between the Office of Attorney General, local victims services organizations, law enforcement, and other key stakeholders. I’ve seen how these comprehensive efforts can work and expanding them is the only way we will stop human trafficking once and for all in Virginia. Our top priority must always be to protect Virginians and ensure that every human trafficking survivor has the support and resources they need to heal,” said Anton Bell, Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney.


“The sex trafficking of American children is one of the most shocking and hidden crimes against our nation’s youth. We support the Office of the Attorney General with this expansion of services to youth regionally and will work alongside them to support their efforts,” said Robin Gauthier, Executive Director, Samaritan House.


“As the primary victim service agency on the Virginia Peninsula, we could not address the issue of human trafficking without the support of the Office of Attorney General and its dedicated staff. The fight to end human trafficking cannot be accomplished in a grant cycle, therefore the United States government, the state of Virginia and municipalities must invest now to eradicate this issue. Any disruption to the countless hours the Office of Attorney General has dedicated to this work would be counterproductive and harmful to communities in Virginia,” said Sanu Dieng, Executive Director, Transitions Family Violence Services.


“We have been partnering with the Human Trafficking Case Manager since January 2021. As the Executive Director for Embrace Treatment Foster Care, I have been extremely impressed with the ability for this team to work with and train not only teams of professionals but also foster parents. The issues facing these victims, as well as their needs are very different from typically behaviorally based, trauma issues, and I strongly believe without the tools and support from the Human Trafficking Case Manager success would be unlikely for these children. The level of caring and professionalism I have witnessed is second to none, and I am honored to work beside them,” said Angela Edmonds, Executive Director, Embrace Treatment Foster Care.


“A regional approach to sex trafficking is paramount in Southwest Virginia due to the approach that traffickers utilize upon making connections. A supported regional network of providers and specialists are essential to serving victims of human trafficking. We have seen that the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly harsh toward our most vulnerable population, among whom are our victims of sex trafficking. Finding and supporting these victims through the criminal justice, and healing trauma process will need to happen well beyond the end of the pandemic. It is our responsibility to set up a network of services to respond to these victims – as they emerge both during and after the pandemic,” said Laura Beth Weaver, Executive Director, Women’s Resource Center, New River Valley.


“By working collaboratively with state agencies, there is an ability to serve areas with limited funding for education and services in order to bring awareness and support for survivors. Often rural areas are prime locations but have little funding with which to properly train area professionals. Additionally, a collaborative approach unites various agencies together to assist survivors by educating our communities, all while working in a unified approach, with the same goals and objectives, but not duplicating services,” said Keith Farmer, Director, Straight Street Roanoke Valley/Street Ransom.


“Richmond City Department of Social Services receives ongoing support and education from the Office of the Attorney General, specifically from Alexandria Wall, Human Trafficking Cases Manager. Overall, Richmond City Department of Social Services is truly thankful to have the Office of Attorney General Office to provide so many services with the goal of promoting safety, permanency and well-being for our youth,” said LaWanda W. Hunter, CPS Program Manager, Richmond City DSS.


“The Human Trafficking Case coordinator for juveniles has proven to be an invaluable asset to our office in furthering the effective administration of justice. On one occasion Ms. Wall assisted our office in providing historical information and insight about a juvenile offender. This allowed our office to evaluating the case with consideration given to the offender’s past trauma as a victim of human trafficking. Ms. Wall also conducts our quarterly MDT meetings, and this provides all partners an opportunity to share information about current cases. It also allows the team to evaluate best practices to provide the most appropriate assistance to these juveniles in need,” said Ashley D. Thompson, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney, Goochland County.


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Source: EIN Presswire