Fat Cats & Bureaucrats

Let’s set the record straight.

 

Search - Brad

Brad Dennis & Cheyenne

On February 4, 2014 an FBI press release publicized the recovery of 16 children during a Super Bowl sex trafficking sting. Many of the children traveled to New Jersey from other states specifically to be prostituted at the Super Bowl. The children ranged in age from 13 to 17-years old, including high school students and children who had been reported missing by their families.  Additionally, more than 45-pimps and their associates were arrested during the Blitz the Traffickers sting operation. Arrests were made and victims recovered in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

 

A coalition of grass roots nonprofit organizations (NPO) partnered with law enforcement on Blitz the Traffickers, but the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was the only NPO mentioned in the FBI release. According to GuideStar, in 2012, NCMEC received a $31,715,505 grant from the United States Department of Justice to pursue their mission of helping to prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation; help find missing children; and assist victims of child abduction and sexual exploitation, their families, and the professionals who serve them. The NCMEC (2012) IRS Form 990 allocates $11,407,540 to, “Provide technical assistance and provide case analysis to assist law enforcement in their efforts to locate and recover missing children and victims of domestic child sex trafficking and to locate and apprehend noncompliant sex offenders”.

 

The NCMEC did not put boots on the ground at Super Bowl XLVIII. Instead, they distributed names and photographs of children they believe might be trafficked to the authorities; and they equipped law enforcement with “hope bags” containing items like flip flops and toothpaste for children rescued from prostitution. This is not a lot of bang for your buck.

Stop Sex Exploitation

Under the leadership of Search and Rescue Director Brad Dennis, KlaasKids, which receives no government funding, has been working with the New Jersey State Police since May 2013 and has participated in several of their sting operations leading up to the big game.  We were embedded with the law enforcement Super Bowl operation from January 28-February 1.  During this time, KlaasKids worked in direct contact with Federal and State intelligence analysts providing information to the operational elements of the law enforcement operation. Our role was two-fold: Providing specific leads regarding online advertisements which had a number of indicators suggesting the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Our most beneficial role was to provide additional analysis to any lead the FBI/NCMEC or other agencies provided to the intelligence unit. Our ability to conduct deep-web searches and scrub the initial ad looking for corroborative information enabled us to provide enhanced intelligence to the undercover operation, as well as, to the interviewers.

In Our BackyardThe KlaasKids Foundation was but one component in a nonprofit coalition that participated in the Blitz the Traffickers operation. For more than a year  Nita Belles worked with the New Jersey Attorney General’s office and local trafficking task forces to overcome operational obstacles and ensure the success of Blitz the Traffickers. The Pensacola based Called2Rescue team provided monitoring services of online escort ads and forwarded over 200-leads to the KlaasKids team in New Jersey. KlaasKids then scrubbed those leads for additional corroboration and submitted 23-specific leads to law enforcement. Several of these leads were in neighboring areas/states and were forwarded to those respective units by the FBI analysts. Free International and StudentReach developed a school assembly program featuring a state-of-the-art 3D multi-media production to prevent child exploitation and features posters of several of the missing children to 30-schools and 6-colleges in New Jersey. Global Child Rescue and Stop Sex Exploitation mobilized local faith based partners to disseminate the awareness posters and missing child books throughout New York and New Jersey.

Free International School Assembly

Free International School Assembly

5000-booklets containing images of 43-regional missing children along with 75,000-football cards featuring 3-missing children were distributed in New Jersey and Times Square, NY.  40,000-human trafficking awareness posters, designed by the Attorney General’s office featuring the New Jersey Human Trafficking Hotline were disseminated. Specific highlights of the Blitz the Traffickers operation included: 16-minors rescued.  27-pimps and/or associates were arrested in New Jersey and 17 in New York.

Global Child Rescue

Unlike the Arlington, VA based NCMEC and Washington, DC headquartered Polaris Project, the Blitz the Traffickers nonprofit coalition did not receive government funding. However, while NCMEC sent pictures and bags full of shampoo and water bottles, and the Polaris Project whined, the Super Bowl nonprofit coalition got busy. They directly assisted in rescuing children, apprehending pimps, and raising awareness about an issue that touches our soul deeply.

Called to Rescue

It seems to me that if American citizens are going to financially support missing child and anti-trafficking nonprofit organizations, they should expect a response that influences policy change through action, dedication and determination. Instead, our national treasure is being squandered on fat cats and bureaucrats.  As a nation we deserve better than that.

Blitz the Traffickers: Human Trafficking & the Super Bowl!

Super Bowl leadA January 18, 2014 USA Today article highlights efforts to combat and raise awareness about human trafficking at Super Bowl XLVIII, which will be held in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium in two days. ‘Blitz the Traffickers’ consists of a coalition of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and non-profit organizations. The coalition has received unprecedented media coverage and as a result, the public is more aware than ever about the scourge sex trafficking within our own borders. Unfortunately, some non-profit, anti-trafficking leaders are criticizing rather than supporting this effort.

Super Bowl XLIV

In 2009, the KlaasKids Foundation and the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking spearheaded the first Super Bowl Tackle the Traffickers. Online analysis using Craigslist and other websites favored by providers and customers was used to target selected geographic locations thought to be hotbeds of human trafficking. More than 45 volunteers distributed anti-trafficking literature and pictures of suspected underage victims to hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other businesses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater during Super Bowl week. As a result of this effort law enforcement secured enough information to arrest 33-traffickers prior to game day. They were also led to the “Treasure Island” trafficking case where three individuals were arrested for prostituting local women and girls.

Super Bowl HT Bust

Treasure Island Human Trafficking Arrests

 KlaasKids has been a non-profit leader working to highlight sex trafficking at every Super Bowl since 2009. The campaign as well as cooperation between law enforcement and non-profit participants has grown exponentially as has public awareness and education. Now, during our sixth consecutive Super Bowl outreach major media outlets are featuring sex trafficking, Congress is holding briefings, and law enforcement is working hand in hand with the KlaasKids Foundation and other non-profit vendors to rescue victims and punish sex traffickers at the Super Bowl. With enhanced public awareness and education about domestic human trafficking at an all-time high I fail to see the downside of this operation.

 

Unfortunately, not everybody shares my view. Bradley Myles, Executive Director of the Washington, DC based Polaris Project openly criticizes Blitz the Traffickers. “There’s not an enormous amount of data that tells the story that there’s a giant spike in trafficking around the Super Bowl. From our perspective, this is really a 365-day-a-year problem, and we want to make sure people’s focus is on all 365 days.” He goes on to say that by, “Focusing solely on the problem for a weekend won’t help victims whose traffickers may keep them away during the Big Game only to sell them once the public’s attention moves elsewhere.”

 

Polaris Project is committed to combatting human trafficking and to strengthening the anti-trafficking movement through a comprehensive approach. According to IRS form 990, in 2012, Polaris Project received $7,234,451 in total donations, including $1,297,434 in government funding. They budgeted $883,224 for the DC Trafficking Intervention Program and the NJ Trafficking Intervention Program. They are charged with providing direct social services to victims of human trafficking in the Washington, DC and Newark, NJ metropolitan regions. Although MetLife Stadium is only 7-miles from downtown Newark, NJ, Myles prefers to criticize Blitz the Traffickers rather than offering to assist human trafficking victims rescued at the Super Bowl with direct social services.

 

The KlaasKids Foundation does not receive government funding and is not compensated its Super Bowl outreach program. Yet we have been very successful in increasing overall awareness of human trafficking, in pioneering online monitoring and reporting, in creating a campaign to increase public awareness of area missing children, and limiting opportunities for pimps and johns. KlaasKids understands that human trafficking is a 365 day problem in the United States, but believes that the Super Bowl is a perfect stage to highlight the issue. It should be obvious to anyone who actually pays attention that the Super Bowl is symbolic of any huge public event that draws large numbers of men with disposable income and time on their hands.

Super Bowl Outreach

Super Bowl Outreach

By linking arms and working toward common goals we can change the world. Efforts to rescue victims and punish traffickers can only be enhanced by working with other non-profit organizations with similar goals. It’s the difference between boots on the ground and lofty pronouncements from ivory towers. If you are going to talk the talk, you should be prepared to walk the walk: particularly if, like the Polaris Project, your talk is underwritten by taxpayer dollars.