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Chelsea IrizarryJul 30, 2018, 3:11 pm

New unit launched to toughen down on human, sex trafficking

Suffolk County Police Dept. enforces multi-prong approach to eradicate prostitution on Long Island

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HAUPPAUGE — The Suffolk County Police Department launched a new human trafficking unit out of efforts to crack down on sex trafficking and prostitution. The first of its kind on Long Island, the team consists of seven detectives and police officers who will investigate suspects who seem to engage in related criminal activity.

"Most human trafficking is done with people who develop relationships with these victims, and they use drugs and [the] opioid epidemic to further their efforts," says Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart says that the task force is changing their approach with the young individuals who are involved, usually women. They will no longer treat them as criminals but as victims, hopefully to get to the root of the issue and tackle ring leaders at the highest levels. Instead of jail time, victims will be treated with therapy for drug use, mental health, and job training. If they complete their requirements, then their charges are sealed or dismissed. The unit will also host informationals on sex trafficking for the community, hotels, and hospitals and provide training courses for new detectives.

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