SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield is taking a new approach to tackle human trafficking.
The Springfield Police, the State Police, the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office, and the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services were all represented during a partnership announcement.
Human trafficking is an international problem that’s been uncovered in Springfield’s South End.
The partnership was announed at the South End Community Center, the cornerstone of the South End. The very place where Springfield’s C-3 policing unit will focus their human trafficking efforts.
Human trafficking is essentially the exploitation of people. Often for sex, but also for money, jobs, or drugs. It’s a crime — but the District Attorney said the prostitutes will be treated like victims.
“To shift the focus away from criminalizing and prosecuting prostitutes to shifting it toward working with them as victims,” explained D.A. Anthony Gulluni.
That means mental health, substance abuse and housing services. As for the men who pay for sex…they’ll be given one warning and required to pay $400 for an educational program on STD’s to start at the Ludlow Jail on Dec 2nd called “The John’s Class.”
“It’s a court mandated programs. It’s 4 hour program to educate the Johns as to why they should not be out here buying sex,” explained Spectrum Health Services Program Director Maureen Casey.
“They are not going to come through the front door. We are going to bring them through the security door. They are going to see a correctional officer, and uniforms and a sally port and security doors, so if they want to continue engaging in this type of behavior they will have a first hand look at where they will be residing,” added, Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi.
The Springfield Police are using surveillance techniques and will have a 40 man unit working to stop human trafficking in the South End.
Mayor Domenic Sarno warned the Johns that they’ll be caught, and have their identities exposed and their pictures published.