January Proclaimed “Human Trafficking Prevention Month”
Published on January 25, 2024
Commissioners Aim to Further Public Awareness on Global Issue
The Morris County Commissioners declared January 2024 Human Trafficking Prevention Month in Morris County to raise awareness about human trafficking during yesterday’s work session meeting in Morristown.
Commissioner Director Christine Myers presented proclamations to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) and Morris County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) in recognition of their efforts to address the widespread global issue.
The U.S. Dept. of State’s website reports that more than 27.6 million people are subjected to human trafficking around the world. The International Labour Organization (ILO), one of the first and oldest specialized agencies of the United Nations, cited nearly 50 million people in modern slavery worldwide in 2021, of which 27.6 million were in forced labor and 22 million in forced marriage.
Global estimates show that children account for 35% of all identified victims of trafficking, according to information released through the Secretary General of the United Nations on Violence against Children in July 2023.
“It’s hard to know exactly how many are subjected to human trafficking, but it is clear that no one really has a handle on how big this is. Trafficking in children generates an alarming $39 billion in U.S. revenue annually. It is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, especially in the United States, so we need to mindful that this is everywhere,” said Commissioner Director Myers.
Sheriff James Gannon, Captain Joseph Fucci of the MCSO’s Bureau of Corrections, First Assistant Prosecutor (FAP) Maggie Calderwood and Assistant Prosecutor (AP) Catherine LaQuaglia, the MCPO’s Human Trafficking Liaison, briefed the Commissioners on programs and strategies to combat human trafficking in Morris County, while educating on ways to identify and prevent this crime.
The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office is committed to promoting a victim-centered approach to human trafficking investigations, according to AP LaQuaglia, crediting Prosecutor Robert Carroll, FAP Calderwood, Chief Robert McNally and Supervising AP Reema Sethi Kareer for creating an environment that prioritizes human trafficking investigations in a way that is setting a tone for the rest of the state of New Jersey.
She also said the approach seeks to support victims and encourage their active participation in investigations and prosecutions, while also recognizing a need to protect the safety and security of victims and those reporting any suspected activity.
Members of the MCPO participates in quarterly meetings and trainings with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force and with other prosecutors around the state. Members provide training regularly at the police academy and have hosted educational assemblies at Morris County schools for staff, parents and students. The MCPO also provides training to the staff at Morris County Correctional Facility, the Youth Shelter and Youth Detention Center on Human Trafficking, and recently conducted a seminar with volunteer members of the Morris County Sexual Assault Center.
Captain Fucci, who also supports the FBI National Threat Operations Center as a Task Force Officer assisting minor victims and their parents who initiate complaints regarding financial sextortion cases, shared updates about Project Offer Help. It is a victim assistance program initiated in October 2020 by members of Morris County’s Bureau of Corrections to identify incarcerated victims of human trafficking.
Using a trauma informed approach and a coordinated response team, correctional staff undergo training on how to recognize and intervene when a potential victim enters the Morris County Correctional Facility. Under the direction of Captain Fucci and with the support of Warden Christopher Klein, Project Offer Help has grown to include sworn law enforcement officers, civilian staff and nationally recognized clinical professionals. Selected response team members include Morris County Undersheriff Alan Robinson who is a nationally recognized expert on sex trafficking/exploitation.
Captain Fucci shared artwork submitted by students for the annual Human Trafficking Poster Contest, which is open to all Morris County Middle Schools and High Schools. The art contest invites children, the most vulnerable population susceptible to human trafficking, to design a poster that symbolizes what “stranger danger” means to them to raise awareness and foster outreach for those impacted by this terrible crime. The issue is brought to the attention of the children’s parents and all posters are voted on at a public ceremony. Winning posters are displayed at all schools throughout the county. Last year’s contest included six schools and had 76 entries. This year’s contest opened on December 1 and will close next week on January 31.
To report suspicious activity that may be Human Trafficking, please immediately contact your local police department or the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office at 973-285-6200.
To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888 Or text HELP or INFO to 233733 (BEFREE).
Photo 1: (l-r) Commissioner Thomas Mastrangelo, Sheriff Gannon, Commissioners John Krickus and Deborah Smith, Capt. Fucci of the MCCF, FAP Calderwood, AP LaQuaglia, Commissioner Director Myers and Commissioners Doug Cabana and Tayfun Selen.
Photo 2: The Human Trafficking Awareness Poster Contest winning student submissions since the program began in 2021.