National Center for Youth Law

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Los Angeles County Receives National Recognition for its Innovative Approach to Serving Commercially Sexually Exploited Children

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kate Walker (510) 835-8098 ext. 3050, kwalker@youthlaw.org

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has honored Los Angeles with its 2015 Achievement Award in recognition of the county’s groundbreaking Law Enforcement First Responder Protocol for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) (“First Responder Protocol”).

Authored by NCYL staff attorneys, Kate Walker and Fiza Quraishi, the First Responder Protocol is a collaborative approach to identifying commercially sexually exploited children and youth. Its overarching goal is to immediately connect youth to supportive adults and services, obtain a health evaluation within 72 hours, and ensure that exploited youth are treated like victims of human trafficking, rather than criminals or delinquents. A full report detailing the protocol was published earlier this month.

In the fall of 2013, NCYL first began working with the Los Angeles County Departments of Probation and Children and Family Services (DCFS) to create this countywide response to the problem of CSEC. The County Board of Supervisors had identified exploited youth as a priority and directed county agencies to create an interagency response model to assist this population. Other county partners include the Department of Health Services (DHS), the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Public Health, the District Attorney’s Office, Long Beach Police Department, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and the Office of the Public Defender.

The Protocol defines the roles and responsibilities of law enforcement agencies, Probation, DCFS, DHS, and a community-based organization and the steps they must take when police officers encounter a youth they suspect to be a victim of commercial exploitation. Specifically, it offers direction to the county agencies and partners on the first 72 hours, prioritizing how to identify and address the youth’s immediate and ongoing needs.

In August 2014, the County began implementation of the First Responder Protocol. The Protocol was piloted in two areas of the County with high rates of arrests for sex-related crimes. Since the implementation of the First Responder Protocol in August, law enforcement officers from the pilot area have not arrested any children. Furthermore, within the first 72 hours, every child had received a comprehensive medical evaluation and the majority had successfully remained in placement.

NCYL continues to provide guidance for the implementation and improvement of the First Responder Protocol through the county’s multi-agency review committee (MARC) that meets monthly. Additionally, the First Responder Protocol is in the process of being expanded outside of the pilot area to include some jurisdictions of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Los Angeles County will be honored for its First Responder Protocol at the NACo Awards Luncheon on July 12, 2015.

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