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Child, sex trafficking summit to be held Wednesday in Van Nuys

Hoping to find a solution to the area’s endemic cycle of prostitution, the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council will hold a child and sex trafficking summit Wednesday night with presentations by survivors, activists and local and federal law enforcement agencies.

“This issue keeps coming up before our council over and over again,” said George Thomas, president of the neighborhood council. “It’s the number one issue I keep getting asked about as a council president.”

Presentations include discussions from a survivor who was a minor when she was sex trafficked, as well as members of the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI.

Sex trafficking has become a leading topic in Los Angeles County for the last several years. The issue has been most troublesome among teens in foster care, who run away from homes then find themselves trafficked by area gang members. City and county leaders as well as the LAPD and other agencies have been working on new approaches to decrease prostitution; the latest push is to punish the pimps and johns and rehabilitate girls and young women.

Last year, for example, 1,077 people were arrested for prostitution by LAPD officers in the San Fernando Valley. Sixty-three others were arrested for pimping, pandering or supervising prostitution. That disparity in the number of arrests among the groups will be discussed at Wednesday night’s summit, Thomas said, as well as options to deter the cycle, such as mandatory john school or impounding automobiles for 30 days.

A global look at the issue also will be presented by Deborah Quigley, who was a flight attendant for United Airlines for 31 years. Quigley was a volunteer for Airline Ambassadors International. She will discuss how traffickers use the public transportation industry, and what the airlines are doing about it.

“I created a training program that raises an awareness with airlines and airports and how we can all do our part,” Quigley said. “We can all do our part to recognize what a trafficked person and a trafficker looks like. It’s not the airlines’ responsibility, but it’s all of our responsibility.”

Thomas said members of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council will use all that they have learned form the summit to craft a proposal to send to local and state representatives.

“The goal of the summit is to propose new policies to address this issue,” Thomas said.“With all the major players speaking about it, we’re hoping that this debate will produce new ideas for state legislation and citywide ordinances.”

Wednesday night’s child and sex trafficking summit will be held at 6:30 at 6262 Van Nuys Boulevard and the summit will take place in the council chambers. For more information, go to vnnc.org.

  July 29, 2014  

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Fort Worth officer shoots, injures suspect in series of armed Craigslist robberies

Staff Writer Julie Fancher reports:

Fort Worth police shot and injured a man suspected in a string of Craigslist-related armed robberies Tuesday afternoon, the department said.

The shooting occurred as undercover officers were conducting a sting operation in the case about 2:30 p.m. in the 6300 block of McCart Avenue in South Fort Worth, said Sgt. Raymond Bush, a department spokesman.

Bush said members of the robbery unit, along with the narcotics and zero-tolerance officers, had been working to identify a suspect in a series of heists in which victims were robbed when they met the suspect to conduct Craiglist transactions — typically involving items like tennis shoes.

Officers set up a meeting with the suspect, who had not been identified Tuesday. When they moved in to arrest him, he displayed a handgun in the waistband of his pants and was shot once by a uniformed officer, Bush said. The officer wasn’t named.

No officers were injured, Bush said. The man was in stable condition at an area hospital.

Police detained a second suspect, who also had not been identified.

The officer was placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation

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