northern Colorado human trafficking symposium website

Law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are at the forefront of the U.S. government’s efforts to prevent human trafficking, protect trafficking victims, investigate trafficking cases, and prosecute suspected traffickers. Yet, their efforts to investigate human trafficking cases are often hampered by various issues, including insufficient law enforcement personnel with human trafficking-centered training, limited logistics to handle human trafficking cases, misconceptions about human trafficking victims, and issues of cooperation within law enforcement and with other partners. Consequently, LEAs acknowledged that collaborating with specialized organizations other than LEAs that deal with this problem is crucial (Farrell, Wills, & Nicolas, 2020; Nietzel, 2020). While there are collaboration initiatives between LEAs and social service providers regarding assistance to human trafficking victims, there is no known collaboration between LEAs and private investigators (PI) specifically around investigating human trafficking cases.
This presentation has two objectives: to show that PIs have the potential to supplement law enforcement’s efforts to investigate human trafficking cases and to discuss a project exploring the concept of an interagency collaboration between LEAs and PIs. First, a mixed method design was used to examine not only the work experience of PIs in human trafficking investigations, their strengths, and challenges as potential collaborators to law enforcement in the fight against this problem. The study was based on data from a subsample of participants (n = 39) representing 48% of an original study sample of PIs (n = 81). The findings highlight PIs’ professional potential and skillset to investigate human trafficking cases. Second, the presentation will discuss an innovative research project exploring the feasibility, potential benefits, and challenges of collaboration between LEAs and PIs for human trafficking investigations through an enhanced collaboration model (ECM) approach. Implications for criminal justice and policy will be discussed with input of the audience.

Read more about the presenter, Dr. Charles Hounmenou.