Attorney General Pam Bondi today kicked off Florida’s 2017 Human Trafficking Summit in Orlando. This year’s summit focuses on connecting stakeholders throughout Florida with the shared goal of eradicating human trafficking. Law enforcement, the legal community, service providers, healthcare professionals, educators and other first responders are participating in profession-specific breakout sessions and training opportunities. There will be breakout sessions discussing human trafficking prevention, victim advocacy, law enforcement action and much more.
“Combating human trafficking in Florida has been and will remain one of my top priorities, but the fight requires joint-efforts from partners not just from Florida, but nationwide,” said Attorney General Bondi. “This important summit brings together those dedicated to ending this crime and builds on partnerships striving to make Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking.”
Attorney General Bondi is dedicated to eradicating human trafficking and is a national leader in the field—just this summer, Attorney General Bondi discussed efforts to stop human tracking with international leaders at the Conference of Western Attorneys General Meeting. Additionally, Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution continues to aggressively prosecute multi-judicial circuit human trafficking cases in Florida. Working with state lawmakers, Bondi helped create the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, which she now chairs. Part of the council’s duty is to hold this annual Human Trafficking Summit.
Today’s summit brings together local, state and other national leaders working to fight all forms of trafficking. Participants will be exploring ways to help survivors and possible policies changes to combat the crime. More than a thousand individuals registered for today’s summit working to achieve this common goal.
At the summit, Attorney General Bondi presented awards to individuals for their efforts to combat human trafficking:
- Misty Laperriere, Survivor Advocate of the Year—Laperriere is the Director of Outreach and Law Enforcement Liaison for Selah Freedom and a survivor of human trafficking. In 2016, Laperriere assisted the Sarasota Police Department in rescuing two women from a local hotel. In addition to her work with victims, Laperriere provides training to several law enforcement agencies in Florida including the Sarasota and Bradenton Police Departments and travels throughout the state helping victims of human trafficking. Additionally, Laperriere implemented Florida’s first prostitution diversion court program called Turn Your Life Around.
- Dr. Heidi Schaeffer, Community Advocate of the Year—As executive board member and coalition communications specialist for the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition, Dr. Schaeffer has spoken to several news organizations about human trafficking and how citizens can help. Dr. Schaeffer trained teachers and students at Palm Beach County schools on human trafficking indicators. She also worked closely with deans, professors and students to help incorporate human trafficking instruction into medical school curriculum and develop a clinical training video and multiple live presentations for Baptist and South Miami Hospitals.
- Lisa Haba, Prosecutor of the Year—Haba is an assistant state attorney in 18th Judicial Circuit Court. Haba works in the office’s sex crimes and child abuse division, prosecuting cases involving human trafficking and crimes against children. Last year, Haba successfully prosecuted the first human trafficking case in Seminole County. Haba also sits on the board of directors of The Lifeboat Project, a human trafficking focused non-profit. Haba is a member of the Seminole County Human Trafficking Task Force and teaches the community, law enforcement officers and deputies about human trafficking.
- Corporal Alan Wilkett, Law Enforcement Official of the Year—Corporal Wilkett led the Pasco County Human Trafficking Task Force on several sweeps and trained more than 2,000 community members through the Pasco County Commission on Human Trafficking. Corporal Wilkett actively works with local government offices, local healthcare provider Baycare, the local community and non-profit organizations like Bridging Freedom, where he serves as a board member.
Additionally, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice awarded Christopher Massey Human Trafficking Advocate of The Year. Massey chairs the Education and Awareness sub-committee for the Freedom 7 Human Trafficking Task Force. Since January 2016, as Chair, Massey trained and educated almost 5,000 individuals about human trafficking.
The Florida Department of Children and Families awarded Investigator Deborah Stout the Department of Children and Families Human Trafficking Investigator of the Year font-family: Arial; font-size: medium;”> for her compassion for a young victim. Instead of discounting the victim due to the victim’s record, Stout tried to fully understand the situation, established trust and developed a relationship with the victim.
For more information about the summit, visit HumanTraffickingSummit.com.