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Utah Attorney General’s Office & Asian Association of Utah Awarded Over $1.2 Million to Fight Human Trafficking and Support Victims

Monies will enhance the Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force

SALT LAKE CITY – Dec. 8, 2015 – The Utah Attorney General’s Office and the Asian Association of Utah today announced they are one of sixteen partnerships selected by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2015 for anti-trafficking task force grant awards to support law enforcement efforts and victims services over the next three years. The Utah Attorney General’s Office was selected to receive $899,512 as the law enforcement applicant and the Asian Association of Utah will receive $400,000 as the victim’s service provider. The combined funding will support the Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force.

“Over the past two years my eyes have been opened to the atrocities of human trafficking – including right here in Utah. I am honored to work with so many experts and dedicated team members from all the agencies comprising the Utah Trafficking in Persons Task Force, including those from the Attorney General’s Office and our SECURE Strike Force who are individually and collectively dedicated to eradicating human trafficking in Utah,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “The DOJ grant will have tremendous impact on not only investigations and prosecutions, but also victim support in Utah. The Asian Association of Utah is a proven community leader in providing services for many of our most vulnerable and we look forward to partnering with them to help victims of trafficking reclaim their lives.”

In 2014, the Utah Attorney General’s SECURE Strike Force was involved in over 25 human trafficking related investigations, serving over 70 victims. The DOJ grant funding will be used to support and enhance existing human trafficking efforts including: 1) implementing victim-centered, collaborative and sustainable approaches to identifying victims of sex and labor trafficking through training and outreach, 2) Proactively investigating trafficking leads through dedicated law enforcement staff, 3) Building strong cases for prosecution of traffickers through a specialized prosecutor and 4) providing individualized, comprehensive victims services for victims of all types of trafficking throughout Utah.  Additionally, the Task Force will gather statewide data and share information in order to ensure Utah’s human trafficking response is data driven and effective.

“In most investigations and subsequent prosecutions that have roots in human trafficking, we find victims in fear of not only their traffickers, but also of what exists outside of the life that they have known,” said Tammie Atkin, Chair and Board Member of UTIP and the Attorney General’s Victim Witness Coordinator. “Solutions are complex and often take years of victim support for individuals to finally find personal freedom. Our office understands how important it is to have partners who know how to build trust and establish patterns of self-sufficiency and success.”

Elizabeth Hendrix, Program Director at the Asian Association of Utah added, “We are proud to partner with the Attorney General’s Office to serve all victims of sex or labor trafficking, regardless of age, gender, or immigration status.  Victims often experience extensive trauma and have complex needs.  We have established a comprehensive set of victims services — through our programs and great community partners — to ensure each individual’s needs are met as they move toward recovery and healing.”

The UTIP Task Force is led by an Executive Board, co-chaired by representatives from the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Utah.  Comprised of over 70 essential stakeholders from multiple sectors and geographic areas, UTIP has broad reach in both participation and impact. Members include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Utah Department of Public Safety, multiple law enforcement agencies, first responders, victim advocates, NGO’s, social service agencies, Utah Department of Child and Family Services, Juvenile Justice, Utah Occupational and Professional Licensing, Utah legal services, Backyard Broadcast, Volunteers of America (Utah), Statewide Information & Analysis Center and many others.

To support statewide efforts to combat human trafficking, UTIP will use a micro-grant structure to provide small awards to local law enforcement-victim service provider partnerships.  This will foster collaborative approaches to human trafficking response throughout the state, and allow highly-impacted areas to develop local capacity to address trafficking.

Also within the scope of the grant, UTIP will gather statewide data and share information to ensure Utah’s human trafficking response is data-driven and effective. In order to facilitate data-informed decision making, researchers from the University of Utah will monitor progress toward project goals and provide feedback to the Task Force. Using information about law enforcement indicators (such as investigation, prosecution, and conviction), service indicators (such as number of victims receiving treatment services), and task force indicators (such as number of partners and referrals), researchers will support the Task Force in implementing policies and procedures that increase responsiveness to the issue of human trafficking.

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