Operation Cross Country, an initiative to address the sexual exploitation of juveniles, is an annual law enforcement action that takes place once a year for a three-day period. 106 cities across the US work with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies who also partner with FBI and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
The operation started in 2003 by the Innocence Lost Initiative and since its creation has resulted in the identification and recovery of approximately 3,600 minors who have been sexually exploited.
In Wisconsin, numerous cities took part in the three-day operation, including Fond du Lac. This is the second year the Fond du Lac Police Department (FDLPD) has worked with the national taskforce on this operation. ASTOP has collaborated with the FDLPD during both operations. ASTOP advocates were on call during the three days and were available to the FDLPD when a trafficking victim was recovered. Advocates provided support, information, resources and any follow up needed. Advocates have met with 15 victims recovered during the last two opeartions.
Working with victims of trafficking is specialized. Education and training is necessary to provide adequate services to these victims. ASTOP is proud to take the initiative to make sure advocates are trained to work with victims of sex trafficking.