NGO treated like VIP by COPS
by Alan Lai - Crime Victim Service Director
I have been a Victim Advocate for 20+ years in the greater Seattle area since I came as an immigrant from Hong Kong in 1984. For the last 10 years I have worked as the Crime Victim Service Director of CISC, a non-government office based in Seattle.
The Florida Regional Community Policing Institute at St. Petersburg College co-hosted a forum to discuss advanced Human Trafficking Investigations training on February 18-19, 2009 in St. Pete Beach, Florida. In January, I was invited by Richard Mears with Maine Community Policing Institute to do a presentation on “Minimizing the Cultural Barriers in Human Trafficking Investigations.” The attendees were primarily local and federal law enforcement subject matter experts working with Human Trafficking investigations and training. The timing is pretty bad for me because the meeting falls on my birthday. Besides, I still have flash backs from some old experience from about 10 years ago when I was doing some outreach work about crime victim service to human trafficking victims. Some detectives were rolling their eyes, and others asked, “Why do we have to help people who come to our country through illegal means?"
On February 18, I walked into the meeting room with some gingerly feeling. Within less than an hour into our discussion, my doubts were all gone. All the people in the room shared similar enthusiasm to combat human trafficking. We also have the most positive attitude to tackle the problems. One of the investigators from Clearwater Police Department said it best, “Some emphasized on the limitations. We see possibilities.”
Needless to say, my talk was greeted with full attention and tremendous sharing and feedback. Despite the accent in my English, I felt the respect and open-mindedness of the group. I witnessed how the group incorporates the cultural and language factors into the Advanced Investigative Skills in Human Trafficking for the future nation-wide training.
I did not get a birthday cake on my birthday in Florida, but I walk away totally content for my time well spent with a wonderful group of front runners in fighting the crime of modern slavery. COPS have made an NGO feel like a VIP.
Alan P. Lai
The Upper Midwest RCPI in Minnesota, was funded by the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance to coordinate two focus group meetings to discuss the development of an advanced course in Human Trafficking Investigations. Florida RCPI was contracted to organize the first focus group. The second was held in Texas in March 2009. As a result of the two focus group meetings, a 24-hour advanced investigative course will be developed and available nationally in the near future. The Florida RCPI continues to partner nationally to provide cutting edge training to Florida law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Please review our extensive information regarding training and other Human Trafficking related issues elsewhere on this website.
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This project was supported by Grant No. 2009-CKWX-K010 awarded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Department of Justice, and Grant No. 2009-D1-BX-K030 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Department of Justice. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the SMART Office, and the Office for Victims of Crime. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not represent the official position or policies of the United States Department of Justice.