Modified: October 17, 2016 4:39pm
Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Jr. joins Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard, the United States Attorney’s Office and task force members to unveil to the public new human trafficking public service announcements (PSAs).
As part of a human trafficking grant, $20,000 was earmarked for the production of two human trafficking awareness announcements.
“For too long the plight of victims of human and labor trafficking has gone unnoticed, even though it occurs right in front of us, “ says acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Jr. “I am so proud to collaborate with my law enforcement partners to help these victims and prosecute their abusers. Thank you Sheriff Howard and the members of the Human Trafficking Task Force for their efforts to educate the public and give hope to the victims.”
Sheriff Timothy Howard stated, “I am very happy we, in the law enforcement community, are expanding our efforts to investigate and prosecuting human trafficking incidents and equally happy to be part of the PSAs to help raise the awareness of human trafficking and especially let victims know my office can help them and protect them.”
The PSAs were written and produced locally for the Western District of New York Human Trafficking Task Force and will initially be internet based announcements followed television broadcasting throughout the Western New York region.
Two different PSAs were produced for distribution, one discusses the commercial sex trade aspect of human trafficking and the other highlights how traffickers coerce victims to perform labor or services.
Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to lure victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. Traffickers seek individuals who are emotionally and psychologically vulnerable, face economic hardships, or victims of natural disasters or political unrest. In 2015, there were over 110 reported incidents with 149 victims of human trafficking within the region and the task force resulting in arrests and convictions.
The task force has teamed with the Greater Buffalo Metropolitan Crime Stoppers to utilize its tip line to report illegal human trafficking activities. All calls are anonymous and people can call 716.867.6161.