Not Here sponsors a conference every 12-18 months focused on educating and rallying individuals to work together against human trafficking. The first conference in 2011, launched with the leadership of the Auburn, Maine Police Department, was a one-day event with one hundred fifty people in attendance. The “standing room only” one-day conference launched the start of a coordinated, multidisciplinary network focused on fighting human trafficking. In 2012, the conference expanded to a two-day event, with 210 attendees.
Following these two conferences, awareness about human trafficking grew among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, victim service agencies, and faith-based organizations. We received very positive feedback from both conference presenters and attendees, including the FBI, Homeland Security, the Maine Attorney General, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), district attorneys, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and victim service providers. Information was shared, conversations ensued across the network, and legislation moved forward. We were encouraged to expand the conference further and include more intensive training sessions.
By 2014, our third conference had evolved into a two-day event with 302 attendees at a new location, the maximum our venue would hold. A review of attendee surveys following this conference identified additional areas of training interest/need within our growing network. U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty and his staff have been great supporters and partners during our previous three conferences.
Our numerous past presenters have included:
- International and local Public Health Providers
- Panel Presentation by: U.S. Attorney/ICE/FBI/MECASA/Catholic Charities
- Survivors of sex trafficking
- National Organizations including Fredrick Douglas Foundation, International Justice Mission (IJM), and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, among others.
As a result of our continued collaborative efforts, Maine is moving forward in these areas:
- A stand-alone statute for Human Trafficking
- A Victim Centered Approach to Aftercare Services
- Transformation of Law Enforcement Culture with identifying victims
- Change with the Prosecution of Offenders
- Learning the business model of human trafficking
- Continuation of a multi-disciplinary collaborative approach involving law enforcement, victim services, prosecutors, faith-based groups, NGO’s, medical personnel and community members
- We identified human trafficking as the most emerging threat against vulnerable children both here and abroad. It became clear that there was little appreciation of this despicable crime and its escalating impact on children, especially girls.
- We brought together a broad coalition of local leaders and developed a growing conference series. This conference has become the leading regional event for cutting edge information, networking and strategic planning as it relates to human trafficking and exploitation.
- The conference has been a springboard to many further projects including Project TLC and legislative initiatives recently signed into law by Maine Governor Paul Lepage. This legislation improved Maine’s ability to prosecute traffickers and advocate for victims.
- This conference has directly impacted more than 400 professionals and community members who are spearheading social change locally.
- We have accepted an invitation to bring a similar conference to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic in 2016. We will train and assist in the creation of a collaborative network to fight human trafficking in the Domican Republic.