Washington D.C. (WKBW release) -- New York Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand on Thursday announced a $500,000 grant for the Erie County Sheriff’s Office to support efforts to combat human trafficking as part of an initiative with the International Institute of Buffalo, the U.S. Attorney’s office and a regional task force to prevent human trafficking.
The competitive federal grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice to support a comprehensive strategy against human trafficking in all forms. Earlier this year, Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand both wrote to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging his support for Erie County’s efforts to prevent human trafficking and assist trafficking victims.
“We need to do everything we can to combat human trafficking, and this investment will help law enforcement do exactly that,” said Senator Schumer. “This award will help us track, stop, and punish criminals who engage in this despicable activity, and put more of them behind bars. Going forward, I’ll keep working to bring Western New York’s law enforcement all of the tools they need to keep our families safe.”
“This is a great investment for Western New York’s law enforcement,” Senator Gillibrand said. “When we fight back against human trafficking, we can hold more dangerous criminals accountable, help victims put their lives back together, and keep more New Yorkers safe. I will keep working to secure all the tools and resources our local law enforcement need.”
“Our steadfast commitment to the safety of all human trafficking victims and our unwavering pursuit of justice against the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity has now gotten a little easier thanks in large part to this half million dollar grant”, said Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard. “There is no place today where human trafficking will not be happening in either this county, this state , this country or even our world. We must be ever vigilant in our efforts to wipe out this modern day slavery scourge and again, this grant will help us in our dogged pursuit of such.”
Amy Fleischauer, Director of Victim Services, International Institute of Buffalo said, “We are ecstatic. This award will allow the International Institute of Buffalo to expand our efforts to work with all victims of human trafficking in Western New York, foreign born and native born. We also will be able to continue to work with our partner, Farmworker Legal Services of New York, on cases of agricultural trafficking in this half of the State. Identifying and assisting victims of trafficking on farms – who are often hidden from sight - is a developing area of the field and is critical for informing national human trafficking policy.”
The competitive grant from the Department of Justice is awarded through the “FY 2011 Enhanced Collaborative Model to Combat Human Trafficking.” This cooperative agreement reflects the continuing commitment of the Department of Justice to enhance the law enforcement and social service fields' response to victims of human trafficking. The purpose of this award is to support a comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking in all forms; sex trafficking and labor trafficking of foreign nationals and U.S. citizens (male and female, adults and minors). The task force, through an award to a law enforcement agency and a victim service provider, will work collaboratively among themselves and other key stakeholders/partners to: 1) conduct proactive, victim-centered trafficking investigations; 2) offer a comprehensive array of restorative services to meet each victim's identified needs; 3) support the prosecution of trafficking crimes on state and federal levels; and, 4) enhance community capacity to identify and report trafficking crimes by conducting training, public awareness, and outreach activities.