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The Battalion

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Brazos County Sheriff’s Office receives $1.5 million grant to end human trafficking

A+K-9+unit+searches+the+area+around+Kyle+Field+for+any+explosive+devices+on+Thursday%2C+Oct.+13%2C+2022.
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A K-9 unit searches the area around Kyle Field for any explosive devices on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022.

The Brazos County Sheriff’s Office and Unbound Now were awarded $1.5 million total to put an end to human trafficking. 

The Brazos County Sheriff’s Office and Unbound Now are collaborating as a team to limit human trafficking occurrences in the area. Unbound Now is an organization that supports survivors and educates the community on human trafficking in Bryan-College Station, and is affiliated with the Antioch Community Church.

Public Informations Officer Deputy David Wilcox explained how the money will be divided between the two agencies. 

“The way that the grant was awarded $750,000 was given to the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office and $750,000 went to Unbound [Now],” Wilcox said.

Wilcox said they are looking to create a task force for the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office. 

“We are going to have investigators that are trained and get the resources and funding needed to make this a priority,” Wilcox said. 

Director of Development and Communications for Unbound Now Bryan-College Station Katie Humphreys said Unbound Now’s mission is to support survivors and the community to fight human trafficking. 

“We really do this through three main areas,” Humphreys said. “The first being prevention awareness, professional training and survivor advocacy.” 

Wilcox said the two groups will work together to provide assistance to benefit the community. 

“It’s going to be two sides of the same coin,” Wilcox said. “One is going to be focusing on getting the offenders put in jail and the justice served on that side. Unbound [Now will] provide the resources for those victims.”

Wilcox said the Sheriff’s Office is appreciative of Unbound’s  resources.  

“Our partnership with Unbound [Now] is extremely valuable because they are going to provide all sorts of victim advocacy resources,” Wilcox said. “They will be there on scene to help victims through this crisis.” 

Humphreys said the two agencies work together when investigators have received a human trafficking incident. 

“They call us when they identify a human trafficking victim, and we service a victim service provider there,” Humphrey said. “They of course focus in the justice component of human trafficking and the crime. We are really excited to have applied for this joint grant with [The Brazos County Sheriff’s Office].”

Wilcox said it’s important for community members to reach out even if they are hesitant because it could save someone’s life. 

“My suggestion to the community is if you see something or hear something, say something,” Wilcox said. “Human trafficking can be hard to detect sometimes.  If you see something that catches your attention, we want you to call us.”

According to therefugedmst.org, 83% of U.S. sex trafficing victims are U.S. citizens. The site also states that the pandemic led to an increase in sex trafficking. 

“Online forms of sex trafficking increased by more than 45% during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to Polaris Project. 

Humphreys said that Unbound Now can provide 24-hour assistance to victims.

“Unbound Now is the only organization right now that has a 24-hour staff-run crisis line in the entire Brazos Valley,” Humphreys said. “If it’s not us, it’s no one in this community to respond on scene to human trafficking survivors.”

Humphreys said she is excited to partner with the Sheriff’s Office.

“They have been long-time partners of ours,” Humphreys said. “The Brazos County Sheriff’s Office runs our Juvenile Justice Center that we have partnered with since 2018.”
 

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