MACo’s Spring Symposium “Fighting Human Trafficking With Awareness, Advocacy, and Action” focused on the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world and what is happening locally to combat it.
This year’s spring symposium, held on June 12 at the Quiet Water’s Blue Heron Center in Anne Arundel County, brought together state and local elected officials and government staff to learn more about how counties along with their state and community partners are working together to raise awareness and take action to stop human trafficking in Maryland.
Amanda Rodriguez, Chief Counsel for Policy and Legal Advocacy University of Maryland Support, Advocacy, Freedom, and Empowerment (SAFE) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors, kicked off the symposium by setting the stage with a 101 on human trafficking including an explanation on the different types of trafficking as well as break down of state and local definitions.
The next panel discussed prevention, enforcement, and recovery efforts highlighting legislation that passed this session and work that remains to be done. Laurie Culkin Director of Anti-Human Trafficking Policy for the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) discussed the Governor’s initiatives as well as statewide anti-human trafficking programs, training, and grant funds administered by GOCCP.
After lunch, CEO of the Sun Gate Foundation, Anti-Trafficking Ambassador to Jamaica, and human trafficking survivor Shamere McKenzie shared “My Shoes – One Survivor’s Journey” and discussed the importance of having survivors at the table when developing policies to fight human trafficking.
Rounding out the day was a panel on “Local Solutions to a Global Problem.” It provided an opportunity for local officials and anti-trafficking advocates to share what was being accomplished in their jurisdictions.
Baltimore City Council Member Kristerfer Burnett and Frederick County Council Member Jessica Fitzwater discussed the work they each did with their respective local anti-trafficking groups and partners to pass, enact, and implement local legislation. Ed Thomas Co-Chair for the Eastern Shore Human Trafficking Task Force provided a regional perspective for how multiple counties and groups on the Eastern Shore have come together to tackle the problem. Discussion with the audience centered on the lessons learned from the panelists’ experience and ways they can use what they’ve learned to take similar actions in their jurisdictions.