Published in College Park Patch 10/25/17

The University of Maryland and Prince George’s County Police Department received a grant to fight human trafficking and aid survivors.

COLLEGE PARK, MD — The University of Maryland and the Prince George’s County Police Department received a $1.3 million grant to fight human trafficking and aid victims in Prince George’s County, the university announced Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime and Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded the three-year grant to the University of Maryland’s Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment (SAFE) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors and the Prince George’s County Police Department, according to a news release.

“The human toll of trafficking has terrorized families and victims across Maryland for years. Fully addressing and combatting human trafficking requires an all-hands-on-deck approach,” Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, said in a statement.

The grant was created to enhance collaboration between service providers and law enforcement within human trafficking task forces. The grant will allow the SAFE center and police to identify victims of all forms of trafficking, address the individual needs of each victim and prosecute perpetrators of sex and labor trafficking, the release says.

“Receiving this grant is a testament to the efforts of County employees and volunteers on the Task Force who have worked long and hard since 2013 to restore victims, educate the public and to show traffickers that we are dead serious about combatting human trafficking in all its forms.” said Michael Lyles, the chairman of Prince George’s County Human Trafficking Task Force.

The SAFE Center is the first university-based comprehensive direct services, research and advocacy center on human trafficking, the news release says. They work to provide survivor-centered and trauma-informed services that empower human trafficking survivors to reclaim their lives.

The center also provides comprehensive legal, case management, mental health, primary medical and economic empowerment services to U.S. and foreign-born adult and child survivors of sex and labor trafficking.