CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio — Eighty-five people have been saved from human trafficking by the Cuyahoga County Regional Human Trafficking Task Force since its start in 2016.
The victims range in age from 12 to 66 years old, according to a news release from the county. Additionally, 227 individuals have been interviewed and given a referral for recovery services.
The sheriff’s department heads up the task force and it works with Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services to “investigate suspected cases involving children and coordinate to provide protection for child victims,” according to the news release.
“It’s an unfortunate reality that many victims of human trafficking are children,” said DCFS Director Cynthia Weiskittel. “Whether we’re dealing with suspected victims or victims recovered by law enforcement, it’s our responsibility to fully assess the situation and do whatever it takes to make sure these children are safe, healthy, and on their way to recovery.”
The task force also works with other local law enforcement entities and businesses to accomplish its goals.
“In combating human trafficking, no one agency or organization can do it alone,” said Detective James Mackey of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department. “Cuyahoga County has made a substantial investment in the Task Force, but we also actively partner with other governmental organizations and law enforcement agencies, nonprofit organizations, and local agencies and businesses. We’re building a coordinated and comprehensive plan to address human trafficking and keep our children safe.”
The county says both the sheriff’s department and DCFS take part in Greater Cleveland’s Coordinated Response to Human Trafficking, which a part of the Collaborate to End Human Trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a terrible crime; it’s happening here, in our own communities and neighborhoods. We cannot let it continue,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish. “I’m committed to making sure every relevant County agency is equipped to recognize the signs of human trafficking and is ready to act.”