On November 14, 2006, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales came to the Western District of New York to announce our designation as a Department of Justice funded Human Trafficking Task Force District. $900,000 was awarded by the Department of Justice in two equal grants to the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and the International Institute of Buffalo for the purpose of identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking and prosecuting those engaged in trafficking offenses.
The Western District of New York Human Trafficking Task Force and Alliance is a multi-agency group designed to combat human trafficking through the Western District of New York. This task force includes the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the US Dept. of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI, the US Dept. of Labor, Wage and Hour, US Border Patrol, the International Institute of Buffalo, Farmworker Legal Services, as well as the Missing and Exploited Children.
Under this grant, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office has been given the task to educate and train law enforcement officers, prosecutors, EMS and firefighters about human trafficking, as well as training non-government organizations, including the public. We will educate front line enforcement personnel, as well as the public, on what signs to look for when it comes to human trafficking. Make no mistake about it. . . human trafficking is everywhere. . . it’s hiding in plain sight.
Our grant covers the following 17 Counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates.
Crucial legislation regarding human trafficking was passed by then Governor Eliot Spitzer and became law in New York State in November 2007. In the event your agency wishes to train your personnel, please contact Dep. Theresa Nietzel at (716) 858-2903 or e-mail her at Theresa.Nietzel@erie.gov. There is no charge to your agency for this training. Speakers include personnel from those agencies listed above.