Denver Police Department adds human trafficking unit

DENVER -- There are hundreds of human trafficking cases in Colorado. There are so many in the metro area, the Denver Police Department has dedicated an entire unit to the issue.

It's all a part of a partnership between DPD and the Denver District Attorney's Office in an effort to identify the signs of human trafficking.

“Statewide, we’re definitely looking at several hundreds of cases," said Amanda Finger, the executive director of the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking, a nonprofit organization. She says the crime comes in all forms.

“It’s not surprising from a profit-driven perspective and it’s completely appalling that this is still happening in our communities," Finger said.

There will be a sergeant and two detectives assigned to the unit.

“We want to make sure that both the sex trafficking and the labor trafficking -- these underreported crimes -- that they are addressed," said DPD Chief Paul Pazen.

"I think it’s great that they’re doing that," Finger said. “If you have a dedicated unit, then that is their focus. They will uncover all of these exploitative conditions. They will be thinking more about the root causes, about how we can do a better job in our communities of responding.”

The DA's office says the real challenge with human trafficking is it can come in as one thing and really be another. For example, the office says it just resolved a case that began as a domestic violence situation when there was actually human trafficking going on. The office hopes the new unit will help better identify traffickers.

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