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Dreamstime

Suffolk County is changing the way it deals with human trafficking

July 31, 2018 - 9:12 am
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CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (1010 WINS) -- Suffolk County officials are changing the way they fight human trafficking.

The Suffolk County Police Department rolled out a permanent human trafficking unit that will treat prostitutes as victims.

Newsday reports, the unit will be the first of its kind on Long Island, and had been operating as a temporary unit since May 2017. It will focus on gangs that force women, girls, and boys into prostitution.

"This is not a victimless crime," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

Women working as prostitutes will still be arrested, but will then be diverted into Human Trafficking Court to be connected with counseling, drug treatment, and job training. The pilot program saw 37 people diverted into treatment.