Combatting Human Trafficking

Attorney General Doug Peterson has expressed commitment to battling against human trafficking since before taking office. His interest and concern reaches back several years as he attended early strategy meetings held inside and outside the Capitol discussing protection of the vulnerable in our state.

After being sworn into office, efforts began with his legislative package including a bill to strengthen penalties related to human trafficking. LB 294 was sponsored and prioritized by Senator Jim Scheer of Norfolk, and signed into law by Governor Pete Ricketts on May 19, 2015. 

Last year, Peterson was joined by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry in a Roundtable discussion with recognized leaders concerned and working to combat human trafficking in our state. During the Roundtable, the Attorney General committed to structuring a Strategic Plan. Attendees of the discussion provided input of ideas they believed would benefit the construction of the Plan. 

Grant

Following the Roundtable, recently retired Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Patrick O’Meara agreed to commit his experience and expertise towards serving the state in the Attorney General’s Office as Human Trafficking Coordinator for Nebraska. 

O’Meara’s first project was the completion of an application for a federal grant by the Office of Justice Programs from the U.S. Department of Justice. The AGO was awarded the three-year grant to begin on October 1, 2015. The grant was written in collaboration with the Salvation Army. The grant was specifically for law enforcement agencies and victim service providers. The funding required two separate but coordinated applications. The AGO received $600,000 and the Salvation Army received $900,000 for a total of $1.5M.

On October 20, 2015 AG Peterson and Stephen O’Meara publicly announced the grant, joined by two dozen people including partnering organizations, members of several state agencies, and numerous honored guests. 

Plan

Stephen O’Meara unveiled the overview of a 69 page Report and Recommendations Regarding Establishment of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force (NHTTF). The NHTTF consists of an advisory group as well as three working groups and three operational components. The working groups include Service, Law Enforcement, and Community Partners. The NHTTF will be a coordinated, multi-disciplinary, victim-oriented, statewide response to human trafficking, which will have Response Teams providing the necessary support and service in implementing the work designated by the NHTTF. 

Resources

+ First Interim Report- May 2016

Trafficking Summary-February 2016

National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline information: 1-888-3737-888. The NHTRC takes confidential calls and provides interpreters 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Report & Recommendations Regarding the Establishment of NHTTF