Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $658,468)
The Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office (SNCODA), an office within the Shawnee County, Kansas government, and YWCA Northeast Kansas are jointly applying for the OVC FY2023 Enhanced Collaborative Model Task Force to Combat Human Trafficking Grant, Purpose Area 1: Development of New Human Trafficking Task Forces. This funding will be used to develop the Kaw Valley Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (KVHTTF) into an enhanced collaborative model task force that will expand law enforcement and social services responses to victims of human trafficking. Hiring dedicated, specialized investigative staff, will result in increased intelligence-based investigations, and provide wraparound services to victims. The KVHTTF serves three contiguous counties: Jackson, Shawnee, and Osage. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, their combined population is 205,361, with most residents located in and around the capital city of Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas.
Topeka is 60 miles to the west of Kansas City on I-70 and is intersected by Highway 75 North to Jackson County, and Highway 75 South to Osage County. Southwest via I-335 is Wichita, the state’s largest city. Highway 24 begins 30 miles east of Topeka and heads northwest where it passes just north of the city and crosses Hwy 75. According to data collected from the Kansas Department of Transportation, the combined highest daily traffic average of all major highways in Topeka is approximately 107,920 cars per day. Inevitably, this brings more crime into the service area, including an increase in human trafficking as recently observed in task force operations.
In the last four years, the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office (SSO) has 22 documented human trafficking investigations, and the Kansas Bureau of Investigations (KBI) has documented 23 human trafficking tips assigned to agencies for investigation within the service area. SNCODA has prosecuted six human trafficking cases, and YWCA Northeast Kansas’ Center for Safety and Empowerment has served 228 human trafficking victims. Office for Victims of Crime funding will provide KVHTTF and YWCA Northeast Kansas with needed resources to expand and enhance their ability to significantly increase identification of human trafficking victims, expand the services they receive, and hold the traffickers accountable through task force investigations and prosecutions within the service area.