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Global Center on Human Trafficking Partners with Department of Homeland Security

Center and Homeland Security Investigations – Newark to develop web-based application and website to combat human trafficking

Posted in: Humanities and Social Sciences, Press Releases, University

HSI-Newark and Montclair State University
From left: HSI-Newark Special Agent in Charge Ricky Patel and Montclair President Jonathan Koppell.

The Global Center on Human Trafficking (GCHT) at Montclair State University and the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Newark Division signed a Memorandum of Understanding on January 25 for the development of a web-based application and website to aid in the fight against human trafficking.

The agreement was signed during a special event held at the HSI – Newark field office that featured remarks from Ricky J. Patel, HSI Newark Special Agent in Charge; Jonathan Koppell, Montclair State University President; Ali Boak, Director for Global Center on Human Trafficking; Phillip R. Sellinger, United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey; Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police; Esther Suarez, Hudson County Prosecutor; and Theodore N. Stephens II, Essex County Prosecutor, along with human trafficking survivor Treia Boozier.

The digital resources will be designed to provide information and resources to New Jersey law enforcement agencies that may encounter victims of human trafficking.

Under the partnership, the GCHT and HSI – Newark will collaborate to ensure the new resources include best practices, current contact information and points of contact for law enforcement agencies, anonymized data that will be used to develop research, and strategic initiatives developed by the GCHT and HSI – Newark’s Center for Combating Human Trafficking.

The goal is for the application and website to become a national model that can be used to develop similar resources in other states. Development of the resources will be launched this spring and the initiative is slated to be piloted in fall 2023.

New Jersey is considered a hub for human trafficking due to its location between several major metropolitan areas including New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, both sex and labor trafficking occur in New Jersey.

“We are so pleased to partner with HSI – Newark and to have their expertise as the leading federal law enforcement agency charged with addressing human trafficking,” says Boak. “Sadly, traffickers largely operate with impunity as the vast majority of trafficking cases are not investigated or prosecuted. This initiative will equip law enforcement with an app that can be run on their tablet or smartphone, putting human trafficking training, education, resources and important contact information at their fingertips.”

According to Christabelle Robinson, Communications Specialist and Lived Experience Expert at GCHT, “The most unique part of this app is that it incorporates survivor expertise and lived experience to teach law enforcement how to ethically and sustainably engage and support survivors of human trafficking. This will result in survivors feeling safer in their interactions with law enforcement.”

“Human trafficking is a heinous and unthinkable crime, involving investigative challenges which are extremely difficult to navigate in today’s world,” says Ricky J. Patel, Special Agent in Charge for HSI – Newark. “HSI – Newark is proud to join the Montclair State University Global Center on Human Trafficking in this initiative to provide law enforcement agencies that may encounter victims of human trafficking, with available victim services and additional human trafficking information throughout the State of New Jersey. Collaboration is the best way to achieve our goals to investigate traffickers and connect survivors of trafficking to the services they deserve.”