On February 4th, I flew out to the San Francisco Bay Area to support our law enforcement partners in Super Bowl sting operations. In addition to other methods, officers used the anti-human trafficking tool we developed with Digital Reasoning, called Spotlight, to help identify victims and illicit networks. It was tremendously gratifying to come back to the Bay on behalf of Thorn and see our technology in action.
Taking collaborative tech one step further
What made this trip even more significant for me, was that I had previously worked for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in Oakland, CA, as the Human Exploitation and Trafficking (H.E.A.T.) Watch Coordinator. Many of the law enforcement agencies in the area, like the FBI, the Alameda County DA’s Office and Oakland Police Department, were leading the anti-trafficking efforts for Super Bowl 50. I couldn’t have been more proud of the coordinated, victim-centered response across the region, with collaborative tech at the forefront.
In addition to law enforcement efforts, we also saw various service providers, like Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR), work late into the night to make sure they were able to provide aftercare services for victims identified during the various operations that week. Because I was part of the efforts to set up the anti-trafficking response across the Bay Area, and personally know those silent heroes working behind the scenes to serve our exploited children, I was confident that those involved in the life would be supported and their perpetrators would be held accountable.
The fight continues 365 days a year
Now that the media frenzy has died down around Super Bowl 50, particularly on the issue of human trafficking, it’s still important to remember that kids across the Nation continue to be victimized every day. Yes, big events tend to draw more buyers of sex. This, in turn, likely increases the “supply” of vulnerable individuals being sold online and in the streets. However, as this new study alludes, the demand for the commercial sexual exploitation of children and adults is constant.
Sex trafficking continues to take place around us and is not dependent on big events, like the Super Bowl. It’s something we must remain vigilant to and build coordinated efforts around, with the help of collaborative tech, while also keeping the victim at the center. This is what the San Francisco Bay Area has done so well over the years and continues to do moving forward.
At Thorn, we commend the continued push from law enforcement and service providers to collaborate across sectors to fight child sex trafficking. We’re honored to be able to continue to support them through the development of tools, like Spotlight, which help identify victims and disrupt illicit networks.