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Citizen petition claims more than 800,000 signatures for anti-trafficking ballot measure

Barbara Grady, SF Public Press — Mar 16 2012 - 8:00pm

A nearly three-year effort to put a strong anti-human-trafficking law before voters succeeded this week, organizers said, when they counted 873,000 signatures on their petition to put the proposed Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act on the November state ballot. The citizen-led campaign to strengthen criminal penalties against people who traffic teenagers, children and immigrant laborers on the streets of California cities, and over the Internet, has been working on the issue since 2009, when some Fremont residents started a grassroots organizing effort.

Police catch kidnap suspect after monthlong human trafficking investigation

Jason Winshell, SF Public Press — Jan 9 2012 - 2:31pm

UPDATE 3/14/12: Charges against Trammell were dropped.

The arrest last week of a suspect in a violent San Francisco kidnapping capped a monthlong investigation headed by human trafficking and domestic violence officers from the Police Department’s revamped special victims unit. The case, police officials said, is one of the first fruits of a new collaborative approach emphasizing long-term investigations by officers across disciplines. The pursuit involved human trafficking investigators, who as recently as last summer were instead focusing much of their energy on arresting prostitutes on the street, leading some critics to say their efforts were counterproductive because they punished abuse victims.

After anti-trafficking team shifted focus to prostitution arrests, police retool investigations

Jason Winshell, SF Public Press — Nov 30 2011 - 1:25pm

Special victims unit to take a new victim-centered approach to human rights violations 

The little-noticed use of San Francisco’s human trafficking task force to arrest street prostitutes over the summer underscores a sharp nationwide debate on how local law enforcement can help rescue victims of economic and sexual slavery. Until October, the city’s anti-trafficking team operated out of the San Francisco Police Department’s vice crimes unit. With the help of a federal-state grant, the team racked up more than 15 investigations of suspected traffickers. But in the spring it altered its tactics, making large-scale arrests of dozens of prostitutes in the Polk Gulch neighborhood, in response to complaints from neighbors.

A candidate for S.F. prosecutor makes human trafficking an issue in campaign, downplays federal help

Jason Winshell, SF Public Press — Oct 21 2011 - 12:14pm
The reorganization of the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Victims Unit has become an issue in the November vote for district attorney — at least for one contender in the race: Sharmin Bock, an Alameda County prosecutor. But in doing so, she clashed with police officials who said they need to rely more on federal investigators’ expertise. She said she has placed most of her emphasis on sex tafficking, but has little experience with labor trafficking.

San Francisco police say Special Victims Unit to investigate more cases for evidence of human trafficking

Jason Winshell, SF Public Press — Oct 18 2011 - 5:10pm

The need to focus investigations on cases of suspected human trafficking was one of the key reasons for the reorganization of the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Victims Unit starting this week, the captain in charge of the new office said. The move places three full-time human trafficking investigators, including the police department’s acknowledged expert, in the same office space as more than 40 colleagues working in disparate areas such as sex crimes, domestic violence and financial crimes. Until now, no investigator worked full time on trafficking cases. The change will accompany increased coordination with federal law enforcement officials this week.

Sex, drugs and filth plague city-sponsored public restrooms

Nina Frazier, SF Public Press — Apr 4 2011 - 10:16am

Second of two articles about hygiene options for San Francisco’s homeless

San Francisco’s 25 freestanding, so-called “self-cleaning” public restrooms scattered across the city are magnets for prostitution and drug use. They are so filthy that even after automatic cleanings, they require one to five manual scrub-downs a day. The Department of Public Works, which contracted with JCDecaux more than a decade ago to install and maintain the units, blames the company. The company blames the police. And the police say they don’t have time to babysit city toilets 24 hours a day. The homeless are often shut out of the facilities, which constitute the only public restrooms where they are welcome. Meanwhile, San Francisco takes a cut of the company’s profits from billboards that envelope the toilets.

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