Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $444,464)
Many communities, including the coastal, eastern region of NC, recognize the need to build local capacities to meet the specific needs of human trafficking (HT) victims, and to build and/or strengthen partnerships to be able to successfully identify and prosecute/deter traffickers.
The lead agencies in this grant application, Dare County Sherriff’s Office (DCSO) and Outer Banks Hotline (OBH) have been working together to provide community outreach and awareness about HT in their service area over the past two years, and recognize a major need to plan, develop, and implement a multidisciplinary regional HT force, to include Camden, Currituck, Dare, and Pasquotank Counties, which will be operate as the North Carolina Eastern Region Human Trafficking Task Force (NCERHTTF), if funded.
The population in this region is 114,337 . The median household income of the counties is $55,514  and 11.13%  of the total population is living in poverty. The economy across this area relies heavily on tourism, service industries, commercial fishing, and agriculture. The population can swell to 250,000 people between Memorial Day and Labor Day .
Over the last 3 years, OBH has served 15 HT victims. 6 victims were served during the period of July 2020 – June 2021, 6 victims were served during the period of July 2019 – June 2020, and 2 victims were served during the period of July 2018 – June 2019. OBH has worked to educate businesses, community partners, law enforcement agencies, and the public, as well as working to identify HT victims since October 1, 2020. DCSO has recently started four investigations and has recorded growing incidents of suspected sex/labor trafficking. Growing intelligence, the existence of agricultural and labor-intensive industries and high-volume tourism combined with a growing number of HT victims identified in this region support the belief that development of the NCERHTTF will introduce protocol implementation, thereby increasing HT investigations/prosecutions, increased awareness and opportunities to provide direct services to victims of HT. With collaborative efforts and HT training, Task Force partners anticipate a rise in awareness of HT, increase in referrals to service providers, and an increase in the prosecution of traffickers/buyers.