TRENTON — U.S. Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa today joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers focused on combating human trafficking, which was one of his signature issues during the time he served as state attorney general.
The group, known as the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, was created last year by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in a bipartisan effort to raise awareness of the problem and draft a battle plan for attacking it.
“This is a scourge that affects our young people,” Chiesa (R-N.J.), a father of two young children, said in a statement. “It robs them of their innocence and steals their freedom. We must do more to raise awareness, increase prosecutions against those responsible, and provide assistance to the victims.”
As state attorney general, Chiesa issued a statewide directive ordering law enforcement to commit more time and resources to combat human trafficking, which is expected to spike in the state in the lead up to the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium.
Under the directive, law enforcement officers must investigate any suspicions or reports of human trafficking and alert the county prosecutor’s office. Each county prosecutor must designate at least two people to be trained in human trafficking investigations.
The state also plans to develop standards for law enforcement to perform thorough and timely investigations, and to train all new officers, including State Police recruits. Authorities will also develop procedures to more quickly refer victims to support services.