SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Mayor Edna Jackson and City Aldermen joined Georgia State Attorney General Sam Olens and U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver, along with other agencies and organizations committed to fighting child sex trafficking in Savannah, at a Child Sex Trafficking Conference Monday at the Savannah Civic Center.
"Every time we do training, like we did several weeks ago in Savannah, and they do a sting. There is no shortage of individuals," said Sam Olens, Georgia State Attorney General.
Mayor Jackson invited a cross-section of the Savannah community to join in this collaborative effort and commit their skills to the fight against child sex trafficking in our City. Participants learned from experts how best to provide prevention education to Savannah's children and address the needs of sex trafficking victims and survivors within our community.
Several weeks ago, hundreds of SCMPD officers and employees underwent training to help recognize this crime when they are out working the streets.
"The impressive thing about Savannah was how quickly they went from training to arrests," said Olens. "There is a perception that a lot of these kids come from abroad, absolutely not true."
A new Savannah task force was announced Monday that will attack this issue in a different way.
"It will have your traditional law enforcement component but this will be the first time for the U.S. attorney's office where we are inviting members of the community to join and be a part of that task force so we can bring together those resources," said Edward Tarver, U.S. Attorney.
Savannah has organizations that help support victims, help fund sting operations, help train people to recognize red flags, but some think we need more support for these children long term once they are rescued.
"If you think about it, if they have been in there three to four years, the psychological damage and brainwashing that has occurred. It is going to take a long time. We have the victim compensation fund, which pays for counseling, but it is only a set amount. The next piece is what if they need in house care for years to come? Who is going to pay for that," said Meg Heap, District Attorney for Chatham County.