By HOWARD MANN
Only two counties in the U.S. received a special three-year grant from the Department of Justice to coordinate the fight against human trafficking. One is Orange County in California.
The other is Prince George’s County in Maryland, where the Human Trafficking Task Force (PGCHTTF) brings together law enforcement, social services, government agencies, and community organizations, and is considered a model for jurisdictions across the nation.
“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 combating human trafficking in all its forms.” Chairman Mike Lyles said in a statement Oct. 25.
A candidate for Prince George’s County State’s Attorney in 2018, Lyles is a leading authority on human trafficking, widely sought-after as a presenter for conferences, workshops and trainings. The Task Force was formed four years ago at his urging, making it Maryland’s first, local-government-based group dedicated to fight human trafficking.
Lyles, who also serves as Executive Director of the county’s Human Relations Commission, was appointed Task Force Chairman by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.
“Human trafficking is unacceptable in this county or anywhere and it will never cease until we commit ourselves to thwarting this horrible mistreatment of innocent people,” Baker said. “Since taking office, my administration has taken this issue head on through the great work of our Human Relations Commission, Prince George’s County Police Department, State Attorney’s Office and other agencies, that are combating human trafficking.
“In addition, we created the Prince George’s County Human Trafficking Task Force to bring together various partners committed to putting an end to this unthinkable treatment of people. This grant will go a long way in assisting our efforts to eliminate human trafficking throughout this county, state, and region.”
The grant, totaling more than $1.3 million, will be shared primarily by the University of Maryland Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment (SAFE) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors, and the Prince George’s County Police Department. The Prince George’s State’s Attorney Office is among the law enforcement partners and direct service collaborators taking part.
“Human trafficking is a crime that is negatively impacting so many and tearing families apart,” State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said. “This grant will enhance our joint efforts to arrest and prosecute those who prey on innocent young women and children, while also helping us to better serve the needs of our victims.”
As the county’s next State’s Attorney, Lyles vows to continue Alsobrooks’ legacy of fighting domestic violence while continuing to battle human trafficking. His extensive legal experience, executive experience and political experience make him unquestionably the most-qualified candidate.
Visit his campaign website to donate, learn more, sign up for updates and volunteer.