Top Massachusetts officials announced Tuesday a new four-person State Police unit targeting human trafficking cases that involve children, reports the Boston Globe.
At a State House event, officials also announced policies clarifying that minors who are sexually exploited — paid for sex, for instance — are not criminals, but victims of child abuse who should be aided by the state Department of Children and Families.
The push "will help us bring this issue to the forefront and, most importantly, help the children that are victimized and that are hurting in too many places here in our Commonwealth," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, who leads a state council on preventing domestic violence and sexual assault, at a news conference.
Detective Lieutenant Pi Downsbrough, a nearly 25-year veteran of the State Police, is in charge of the unit, which includes three other troopers, and has been up and running for a few weeks.
Downsbrough said its focus will be children under 18 who are being exploited and trafficked for sex. But "there is no bright line when you're doing these investigations," she said, so if there are older victims, the unit will also ensure there is a criminal investigation and work to get the victims help.