Tempe Expands Services To Assist Victims Of Human Trafficking

Tempe is enhancing its work serving victims of human trafficking through a new Community Health and Human Services victim advocate and specialized detective with Tempe Police Department.

These efforts strengthen the city’s existing work to stop human trafficking and assist victims from the moment of crisis through healing and recovery. Importantly, they bolster proactive outreach with community partners.

“Human trafficking is an epidemic that can affect anyone regardless of age, class, race or gender,” said Tim Burch, Community Health and Human Services Director. “By enhancing our services here in Tempe, we are helping strengthen a statewide initiative to ensure the most vulnerable residents are supported with advocacy and resources on their paths to a better future.”

“Along with the Tempe Police Department, we are proud to recognize Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month in January and provide comprehensive resources year-round,” Burch said.

“I stand with our community to raise awareness and prevent human trafficking. Together, we are committed to protecting the vulnerable, bringing justice to the victims and dismantling the networks that perpetuate this heinous crime,” said Tempe Police Chief Kenneth McCoy.

Enhanced services through Community Health and Human Services and Tempe Police build on the city’s strong commitment to stopping human trafficking. In 2023, the Human Relation Commission recommended that Tempe become a CEASE City, which involved training the city’s workforce on how to stop human trafficking. Tempe achieved CEASE City designation and trained 86% of all employees, surpassing the required 75%.

Human trafficking, both forced labor and sex trafficking, impacts an estimated 25 million adults, youth and children around the world. The statistics are grim.
-13 is the average age of Arizona youth entering sex trafficking; nationally the age is 17
-90% of children trafficked in the United States are U.S. citizens
-1/3 of runaway children will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home

In Tempe, human trafficking victims and survivors are served at the city’s Family Advocacy Center, which opened last year to provide resources in a confidential, centralized location.

Services include safety planning, connections to resources such as counseling or emergency shelter, assistance navigating the criminal justice system and healing-centered care like yoga and support groups. Help is available by calling the CARE & HOPE Line at 480-350-8004.

Both the human trafficking advocate and human exploitation and trafficking detective are being funded through a three-year federal grant.

The victim advocate will join CARE 7 next month, expanding the eight-member Victim Services team that assists victims and survivors citywide. The new advocate will not only provide individualized, supportive services but also help raise awareness in the community about the human trafficking epidemic.

Tempe Police added the specialized detective last year, enhancing the department’s ability to make arrests in cases involving both adults and children, proactively identify victims and work with community partners such as the Arizona Anti-Trafficking Network (AATN). Through targeted operations, Tempe Police is able to focus on especially vulnerable populations, such as unsheltered people, to reduce victimization.

In 2023, Tempe Police made 52 sex trafficking-related arrests, both proactive and reactive, and was part of a Super Bowl Operations Task Force that made 90 arrests.

Residents can contact Tempe Police to report human trafficking by calling the non-emergency number at 480-350-8311. Residents can also contact the Arizona Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-877-4AZ-TIPS.