STEALTH smThe Fresno Police Department receives approximately 3,000 reports of runaways each year. According to our Missing Person's Unit and Vice Unit, at leat 10% of our runaways are lured into Human Trafficking and are working the streets of Fresno.

According to the 2012 report, "Human Trafficking in California," our state is a top destination for human traffickers. Its immense international border, major harbors and airports, in addition to its large and accelerating immigrant populations makes it a prime target for traffickers. Human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal enterprise in the world today and is the fastest growing criminal enterprise, (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). California Assembly Member Sally Lieber added, "The problem of human trafficking has reached into neighborhoods throughout California and is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world."

According to the National Runaway Safeline, in 2012 Fresno was 5th on the nationwide list for most runaways calling in for support services. Statistics extracted from the Fresno Police Department, in 2013 there were 111 lewd and lascivious acts to children under the age of 14 investigated by our department.

In August 2012 the released report, Restore Fresno County, caught the public's attention with some startling statistics. Consider the following sampling of Fresno County facts gathered in 2010:

  • 3, 796 couples filed for divorce requiring $ 94 million dollars for related social services ($25,000 average each).
  • 53% of the births were to unmarried women.
  • Girls between the ages of 15 to 19 averaged a 61/1000 birthrate costing $160 million from social services.
  • 80% of the teen mothers become lifetime welfare recipients.
  • 36% of the children live in single parent households – the majority of which are fatherless.
  • In fatherless homes, the children are two to three times more likely to:

-use drugs.
-have educational, emotional and behavioral problems.
-be victims of child abuse.
-become a teen parent.
-engage in criminal activity.

Our Response:

This project abstract is meant to explain Project STEALTH (Stop Trafficking Exploitation And Liberate Through Hope), the immense social justice effort undertaken by the Fresno Police Chaplaincy (FPC).

FPC shares a unique partnership with the Fresno Unified School District (FUSD) and Fresno Police Department (FPD). Through this partnership members of FPC are able to identify victims of Domestic Sex Trafficking (DST) by placing Chaplains where these victims and at risk youth are; their homes, streets, and in schools.

The outreach effort of FPC is like none other; we are housed within FPD and enjoy full access to their Computer Aided Dispatch system (CAD system). This access allows members of FPC to query all relational calls involving youth (e.g. Domestic Violence, Out of Control Juveniles, and Runaways). FPC uses mentors to respond to these calls for service (CFS) in order to identify the catalyst for the relational turmoil, offer various support services related to the relational breakdown, and in cases where it is appropriate offer mentor services to juveniles, who may be at risk of sexual exploitation. In the case of runaway juveniles FPC handles the investigation, reporting, and follow-up. This unique approach to juveniles is considered the intervention arm of Project STEALTH. Unlike many other organization, who handle youth already exposed to the social services system or juvenile justice system our effort identifies them before they become victims or offenders. Once identified, the youth and parents are evaluated for needs and risk of future victimization. A Case Manager along with a team of mentors will discuss outcomes of evaluations, and design a plan that meets the identified needs and restores relationships. A mentor will be assigned to the juvenile if he/she is determined to be at risk.

Our prevention side of Project STEALTH begins as early as first grade, in our public schools. We have formed a partnership with FUSD to allow chaplains on elementary campuses that are trained in victimization awareness and act as an additional layer of protection for children who may be experiencing abuse. Chaplains are permitted to teach an evidence based Resiliency curriculum during class time that develops key characteristics to help children bounce back from maltreatment and other life challenges.

If you would like to partner with us by volunteering your time to mentor at-risk youth before they become entangled in the Juvenile Justice System or Social Service System, contact our office (559) 621-2120.

If you would like to help fund the Fresno Police Chaplaincy, a 501 (c) (3) not for profit, please use our PayPal account or send to P.O. Box 1271 Fresno CA 93715.