Inside Look: MNPD’s human trafficking unit focuses on ‘creating survivors’

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Teenagers aren’t the only group of people being targeted by traffickers in Middle Tennessee. Law enforcement agencies have emphasized the problem is prevalent across all age groups.

That’s why on January 1, 2021, the Metro Nashville Police Department launched a new special victims unit devoted to investigating trafficking cases and getting victims help.

Lt. Greg Davis oversees that human trafficking unit.

“Traffickers come in every gender, every race,” Lt. Davis said. “A lot of time you’ll hear it referred to as modern day slavery, and it’s just that. It’s someone who’s either, by force, coercion, or fraud, or bribery something like that that’s being forced into a commercial sex act.”

Lt. Davis said they receive most tips online or by anonymous phone calls. Once those tips come in, his team of ten detectives are standing by ready to investigate.

“They get brought here under false pretenses of a better life and freedom,” an undercover Metro detective told News 2. “What’s different about this specialized unit than others I’ve been with in the past is we are very focused on the victim and creating survivors from it all.”

Once investigators identify a human trafficking case, they connect victims with resources to help. Resources like Metro Nashville’s Family Safety Center.

The mission of the Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Office of Family Safety is to increase victim safety and offender accountability by providing vital crisis intervention services to victims of interpersonal violence while maintaining the emotional wellness of service providers.

Latoya Townsend is the Training and Grant Manager at the Family Resource Center.

“The idea behind a family justice center is all of the services a client would need, whether they are a victim of domestic violence or their children were exposed, would meet with a counselor, a detective, and an advocate. Rather than go all over the city, they’re able to come to the facility and have access to all of those partners in one place,” Townsend said.

The Family Resource Center is connected to Metro Nashville’s Police headquarters to help victims feel safe and give them a less-traumatizing experience when speaking with police and counselors.

They offer free and confidential services like counseling, crisis intervention, support groups, and orders of protection.

“There’s a stereotype out there of police officers, and we’re trying to bridge that gap. We’re here for the victims. We’re not trying to get anyone in trouble. We’re trying to help them,” the undercover detective said.

If you, or someone you know is being trafficked, you can call the Metro Nashville Police Department or Office of Family Safety for help.

Metro Nashville Police Department: 615-862-8600

Metro Office of Family Safety: 615-880-1100 or email FSCInfo@jis.nashville.org

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