Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $750,000)
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO), the lead law enforcement applicant, and Catholic Charities Diocese of Palm Beach (CCDPB), the lead victim service provider applicant, are each requesting $750,000 under Purpose Area 2: Expansion of Local Human Trafficking or Tribal ECM Human Trafficking Task Forces. The combined $1,500,000 will support continued and expanded activities through the Palm Beach County Human Trafficking Task Force (Task Force) during the next 36- month project period. The Task Force was formed in 2017, as part of a 2016 ECM grant award from BJA and OVC to combat all forms of human trafficking in PBC. Through a 2019 ECM award, the Task Force was able to strengthen and evolve.
The Task Force is comprised of a diverse membership joined through a formal Memorandum of Understanding. Current members of the Task Force include: PBSO, the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO), CCDPB; PBC Victim Services (PBCVS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Office of the State Attorney, 15th Judicial Circuit (SAO), the Office of Statewide Prosecution (OSP), the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office (SLCSO), the City of West Palm Beach Police Department (WPBPD), the City of Boynton Beach Police Department (BBPD), the Town of Palm Beach Police Department (PBPD), the City of Delray Beach Police Department (DBPD), Palm Beach Gardens Police Department (PBG), the HT Coalition of the Palm Beaches (HTCPB), The Lord’s Place (TLP), Hope for Freedom, Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network (SEFBHN), the Coalition for Independent Living Options (CILO), COMPASS, Inc., Rescue Upstream, National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), The Salvation Army, and Barry University (Barry). New members are added as the Task Force evolves.
PBC is home to a diverse population of approximately 1.51 million residents and over 9 million tourist visitors. The County spans 1977 square miles, which include areas of unparalleled wealth juxtaposed by areas of poverty; coastal, suburban, and rural/ agricultural communities. There are several factors which have contributed to the proliferating crime of HT in our area, including: robust agriculture and tourism industries, proximity to key, strategic entry points (e.g., PB & Miami Int’l Airports, Int’l Port of PB); significant drug epidemic, and a substantial immigrant population.