vice unit

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.

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