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State

Rockford police teams up with anti-sex trafficking group

ROCKFORD (AP) – Rockford police and anti-sex trafficking activists have teamed up to help women they believe are involved in prostitution.

The Police Department and the Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation have been reaching out to women in areas where prostitution is known to occur on a monthly basis since this spring, Assistant Deputy Chief Mike Dalke told the Rockford Register Star .

They offer the women care packages and resources to combat domestic violence, drug problems and housing issues rather than threatening them with arrest.

Dalke said these efforts will begin occurring once a week starting this week.

Alliance co-founder Jennifer Cacciapaglia said a third of the women who’ve been approached so far have been contacted by officers and alliance members previously.

Dalke said the police department is compiling a database of women contacted to address issues better. He said it’s difficult for police to arrest those who control prostitutes and arrange clients, because the women involved fear being physically abused.

Dalke said the department is considering using patrol officers to assist with prosecution “details” consistently. Details consist of undercover officers conducting the operations, sometimes with decoys and other times through surveillance.

Dalke said the last time someone was arrested for pandering in Rockford was in 2013.

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