Editorial — Halting the tragedies: St. Lawrence County may join human trafficking task force | Editorials | nny360.com

2022-08-26 22:59:55 By : Ms. Shelley Yin

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Mostly cloudy. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low 57F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph..

Mostly cloudy. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low 57F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.

Human trafficking has made its way into Northern New York communities over the past decade. Watertown Daily Times

If approved by legislators, the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department will receive a grant for more than $1 million to participate in a statewide task force to confront human trafficking. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

Human trafficking has made its way into Northern New York communities over the past decade. Watertown Daily Times

If approved by legislators, the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department will receive a grant for more than $1 million to participate in a statewide task force to confront human trafficking. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

The devastating costs of human trafficking are both enormous and tragic.

In addition, no community throughout our nation is immune from this horrific practice. People from small, rural areas may be victimized by it just as much as those from more urban regions.

Representatives of St. Lawrence County will join in the effort to curtail human trafficking. The Sheriff’s Department received a grant for more than $1 million to participate in a statewide labor trafficking task force, and county authorities took the first step in accepting this money.

During the Aug. 8 meeting of the Operations Committee for the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators, lawmakers passed a resolution approving the grant. The full County Board will vote on the issue Sept. 12. This was obviously good news for Sheriff Brooks J. Bigwarfe.

“The resolution accepts a Howard G. Buffet Foundation Grant for $1,000,720 to cover costs associated with joining a labor trafficking task force that serves the state. The grant is for a three-year period. The task force will bring together local law enforcement, victim agencies, legal services and outreach entities. St. Lawrence County Sheriff Brooks J. Bigwarfe said the idea for the county to tackle trafficking was seeded by Lon Ziankoski, officer in charge at U.S. Homeland Security Investigations in Massena, who approached Mr. Bigwarfe last fall about starting a human and drug trafficking task force,” an article published Aug. 11 by the Watertown Daily Times reported. “According to the resolution, the goals of the grant include conducting victim-centered trafficking investigations and prosecutions, providing case management and immigration legal services to identify victims, conducting outreach to vulnerable communities, and developing practices for identifying and responding to survivors of trafficking. Some funding from the grant will go toward Renewal House in Canton, Mr. Bigwarfe said, which aids victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. He said Ilene J. Burke, Renewal House executive director, did an ‘exceptional job’ helping the sheriff’s office with writing and facilitating the grant. The funding will also be used to dedicate a detective full time to human trafficking cases, he said.”

Human trafficking has affected people in the north country for years; this is a particular problem for Northern New York because it borders another nation. But local police departments don’t yet have the necessary resources to combat it, Bigwarfe said.

“Mr. Bigwarfe said money will be used for new equipment, including new interview recording systems and night-vision binoculars to help with surveillance, as well as a vehicle,” according to the story. “Even if the grant isn’t renewed after three years, Mr. Bigwarfe said the department will still get to keep all of the new equipment.”

Participating in this program will give St. Lawrence County an edge in addressing this problem. It’s good that the Sheriff’s Department received this grant, and we encourage the County Board to approve the measure and allow the department to move forward.

This is an excellent way for police representatives to be part of a statewide effort to curtail human trafficking. Members of the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department could then share what they learn as members of this task force, which would benefit the broader law enforcement community.

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Great collaboration between legislatures and law enforcement. Hope this new task force is successful. If only we can control the southern border which is greatly facilitating the human trafficking problem.

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