SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO -- Backed by a throng of law enforcement officials, Rep. Jackie Speier on Monday announced a new system for combating the crime of human trafficking, including sex slavery, in San Mateo County.
The Human Trafficking Protocol for Law Enforcement in San Mateo County is designed to help police officers and others detect instances of human trafficking, spur more prosecutions and provide better support for victims.
"Today we're sending a very strong message," said Speier, D-Hillsborough. "This county is not a place that welcomes sex traffickers. In fact, it is going to be the most inhospitable place to come if you are sex trafficking."
The protocol is the result of more than two years of planning initiated by Speier and led by South San Francisco police and fire Chief Mike Massoni. It lays out the guidelines for a new countywide task force dedicated to human trafficking investigations and includes specialized training for both first-responders, such as police officers and 911 dispatchers, and civilians.
Numerous law enforcement agencies are collaborating on the protocol, including local police departments, the county sheriff and district attorney's offices, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Many aspects of the protocol are already in effect. Police have told hotel clerks in Burlingame, San Mateo and South San Francisco, for instance, to look out for and report certain types of behavior from guests. A tip from a clerk last year enabled police to arrest three people and rescue five victims.
The protocol targets criminals who force young women and boys into prostitution, but it is also meant to crack down on other types of modern-day slavery, such as people who are lured to America with the promise of a housekeeping job and then forced to work without wages.