The district attorney’s office will receive $300,000 over two years from an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program Grant, which was awarded after a nationwide submission process, O’Malley said.
She said the grant will help advocates for victims of human trafficking increase their capacity to identify children at risk or those involved in commercial sexual exploitation and to link those children to essential services throughout the Bay Area.
O’Malley said fighting human trafficking is important because the sale and purchase of children for sex has become a multi-million-dollar industry. Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the U.S.
The district attorney’s office created a human exploitation and trafficking unit called HEAT – or Human Exploitation and Trafficking – in 2005.
Earlier this year, the district attorney’s office collaborated with several community partners to introduce HEAT Watch, which O’Malley said is a multi-system, multi-jurisdictional collaborative approach to combating the sexual exploitation of minors.
The program involves training law enforcement officials, vigorously prosecuting offenders, pursuing legislation through policymakers and providing services for children who have been sexually exploited.
O’Malley said the grant will fund the coordination and training efforts of HEAT Watch.
Deputy District Attorney Sharmin Bock, who heads the HEAT unit, said, “This grant will greatly assist in our fight to combat the trafficking of children.”
The other grant recipients are the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the city of Boston and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office in Chicago.