Our new Spotlight tool assists law enforcement with their human trafficking investigations. One of the most powerful aspects of this web-based application, powered by Thorn and Digital Reasoning, is that it leverages technology to enhance collaboration. One of our partners, the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), exemplifies the need for organizations to work together with law enforcement to fight against the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Collaboration with law enforcement to combat child sexual exploitation
Established in 1984, NCMEC has become the leading nonprofit organization in the U.S., working with law enforcement, families and the professionals who serve them on issues related to missing and sexually exploited children. As part of its Congressional authorization, NCMEC has created a unique public and private partnership to build a coordinated, national response to this problem, and serve as the national clearinghouse for information related to child sexual exploitation. Part of their efforts includes providing technical assistance to law enforcement agencies and first responders in identifying, locating, and recovering victims of, and children at risk for, child sexual exploitation and trafficking. As such, Thorn and NCMEC have established a partnership through Spotlight to strengthen NCMEC’s efforts with law enforcement.
We asked Staca Shehan, the Director of the Case Analysis Division at NCMEC, to share what it’s meant for her organization to be able to use a tool like Spotlight to supplement their work in the anti-trafficking field. She said:
“Having access to Spotlight has allowed our staff to add a specialized tool to their analytical toolbox that ultimately provides additional support to those of us working to identify, locate, and recover child sex trafficking victims. We’re able to query Spotlight with pieces of information related to cases of missing children who we believe are being actively exploited by traffickers. The tool also allows us to make connections between disparate data sources that can tell us the historical and geographical story of a victim’s trafficking situation. And once law enforcement has identified a child victim being sold online, we can use Spotlight to receive alerts when new ads are posted or updated. This unique aspect of the tool allows us to respond more quickly and hopefully assist law enforcement’s efforts to recover these children sooner, thereby shortening the time of their exploitation.”
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