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App That Helps Sex Victims Launched By Tampa Bay Task Force

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL — Victims of human trafficking can contact law enforcement officials through an app called, “Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force,” the St. Petersburg Police Department said.

Chief Anthony Holloway explained that victims can talk to a law enforcement member from the task force after they click on the app.

“You just follow instructions on it, and text that number and you can talk to a detective on it 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Holloway said. “We will come and rescue you, or we will find out where you are and how to get someone there.”

Chief Anthony Holloway announces app that helps human trafficking victims. (Skyla Luckey | Patch)

If anyone witnesses activity that appears suspicious, they can also use the app to text authorities with information. Photos pertaining to the incident can be sent to investigators through the app.

Twenty-three law enforcement agencies are part of the Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force along with federal agencies such as the United States State Attorney’s Office Middle District, Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Department of Homeland Security.

“This task force was formed for one thing, and one thing only — to go out there and find our victims that are out there and that are being used throughout the Tampa Bay area,” Holloway said. “We want to tell the victims one thing. We are here for you. Your voice is being heard. We’re there, we’re waiting to rescue you if you’re ready to come home.”

Holloway said the task force was formed in the past year, and it has opened up 107 new sex trafficking cases. Thirty-four arrests have been made out of those cases. Seventy-nine victims have been rescued, and out of those rescued 10 of them were under the age of 17.

Authorities said the task force is teamed up with social workers that help the victims live a normal life after they have been rescued.

The St. Petersburg Police Department said a woman who was saved by the task force from sex trafficking had substance abuse issues and after she went through its healing program for sex trafficking victims, she is enrolled in training to become a dental hygienist.

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