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Robina Conference Mini-Series Number 1: Innovative Investigations and Shifting Police Practices, Panel 1

Posted: October 5, 2016

Welcome! During a month-long series, the CSE Institute will be sharing videos of the notable Robina Conference that took place on June 24, 2016 at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law for your viewing. In collaboration with the Robina Institute of Criminal Justice, the CSE Institute hosted this one-day conference titled Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Shifting Perspectives and Policing Practices. The conference addressed the prevalent issue of commercial sexual exploitation today and how shifting law enforcement strategies and policies have provided an avenue for reform. With a diverse group of panelists ranging from law enforcement officers and prosecutors, to academics, program directors, and survivors alike, audiences have an opportunity to learn about the domestic and international response to the commercial sex trade.

For our first week of the series, the CSE Institute invites you to watch the panel discussion “Innovative Investigations and Shifting Police Practices.” Our three panelists, Lt. Donna Gavin from the Boston Police Department, Marian Hatcher, the Senior Project Manager and Human Trafficking Coordinator for the Office of Public Policy at the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and a survivor of sexual exploitation herself, and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Margie Quin of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, alongside moderator Detective Les Glauner from the Upper Merion Police Department, discuss the shifting perspectives of law enforcement on the subject of policing commercial sexual exploitation. The panelists, all high-ranking officials from various law enforcement agencies around the United States, detail the use of innovative techniques and strategies to target sex traffickers and sex buyers under current laws. They underscore that the victims of sex trafficking should be protected and not prosecuted, as they are consistently being exploited in a world of violence and deceptive manipulation.

Some effective techniques the panel discusses to effectively combat this issue are: quantifying sex trafficking, training law enforcement to identify the signs of trafficking, investigating in a proactive manner, disaggregating the data of prostitution, passing new legislation, increasing victim services, and continuing the operation of reverse stings. Reverse stings, in particular, are comprehensive investigations targeting the arrest of the demand (sex buyers) and are also commonly referred to as “john” stings. Discussing the use of such techniques in her jurisdiction, panelist Special Agent Quin stated, “We began a strategy of working proactive investigations. Instead of using the statutes reactively, instead of waiting for a victim to be dumped on our doorstep, we decided to use the statutes in a very proactive way. So we went out and worked undercover in sting operations.” Six elaborate sting operations netted 102 arrests of demand in cities across the state of Tennessee, including Chattanooga and Knoxville.

Utilizing aggressive investigative techniques and increasing levels of education for law enforcement have proven to be effective in overcoming the plaguing issue of sex trafficking, but there is still a long way to go. Websites that sponsor ads for buying sex and hotels that turn a blind eye to sex trafficking on their premises must be held responsible. Working with fellow government agencies and educating senior law enforcement to understand the scope of this problem will be critical in combating the crime of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Using a holistic, humanitarian perspective, the panelists express hope that all jurisdictions will eventually hold perpetrators of sex trafficking accountable and give the victims of these crimes the break they so desperately deserve.

Our panel includes:

  • Donna Gavin, Detective, Boston Police Department (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • Marian Hatcher, Senior Project Manager and Human Trafficking Coordinator for the Office of Public Policy, Cook County Sheriff’s Office (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Margie Quin, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (Nashville, Tennessee)
  • Moderator: Les Glauner, Detective, Upper Merion Police Department

Watch Panel 1, Innovative Investigations and Shifting Police Practices.

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