TRENTON – Today the Attorney General’s Office, Division of Criminal Justice, and NJ Human Trafficking Task Force hosted its Tenth Annual Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Event at the War Memorial in Trenton. The event is held each year to educate the public about the dangers of human trafficking and recognize statewide efforts to combat this terrible form of modern day slavery.
The Task Force is committed to combating human trafficking through education, collaboration and prosecution. It trains and assists law enforcement in the methods of identifying victims and the signs of trafficking.
Barbara Amaya, human trafficking survivor and award-winning author, provided the keynote address discussing her experiences being trafficked as a minor in New York City and Washington, D.C., for more than a decade and her ability to overcome the trauma of these events.
Each year since 2018 the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force has presented an award in honor of Sergeant Noelle Holl. As a detective with the NJ Division of Criminal Justice, Ms. Holl worked tirelessly to end human trafficking in New Jersey and received numerous awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Jersey Women in Law Enforcement before her death in 2019. Detective Alicia Bergondo of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office received the 2020 Sergeant Noelle Holl Award at the event for going above and beyond in helping victims of human trafficking, aggressively pursuing traffickers through investigation and prosecution, and raising awareness in New Jersey communities. A description of Detective Bergondo’s achievements is attached.
“Today’s event demonstrates the devastating impact of human trafficking, while highlighting our multi-faceted efforts to stop this form of modern day slavery. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to our partners in law enforcement, service agencies, as well as state and local government who assist victims and help them to triumph over heartbreaking trauma, particularly Detective Alicia Bergondo from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office who received this year’s special achievement award,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
“To complement the efforts of the Task Force, we will be reinvigorating the New Jersey Commission on Human Trafficking, recognizing that for the past several years, the Commission has not been operating at full capacity. The Attorney General’s Office, with the Division of Criminal Justice, will be gathering the relevant stakeholders to discuss the next steps to establish a blueprint for the Commission’s efforts. As part of these renewed efforts, my office is identifying academic partners to support the Commission’s work through research, policy analysis, and program evaluation,” continued Grewal.
The Commission was established by statute in 2013 and includes members from the fields of law enforcement, victim assistance services, health care, and child advocacy, as well as members of the general public who have experience in, or who have a specialized knowledge of, human trafficking.
Other speakers at the event included Jennifer Davenport, First Assistant Attorney General, Christine Norbut Beyer, Commissioner, NJ Department of Children and Families, and Veronica Allende, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice.