Los Angeles County and City of Long Beach officials gathered in Long Beach today to launch the Safe Youth Zone program, which creates a network of safe places for child sex trafficking victims and children in desperate situations to seek help and services at designated facilities. The program will be piloted at Compton and Century Sheriff’s Stations, Lynwood and Willowbrook County Fire Stations, and the Long Beach Police Department’s downtown station.
“As the ultimate safety net, Los Angeles County has a responsibility to protect its most vulnerable children,” said Supervisor Don Knabe. “The Safe Youth Zone program creates a safe place for our youngest child sex trafficking victims to seek out help when they find themselves in a desperate situation. While we are starting with public safety stations, my hope is that all County facilities will one day serve as Safe Youth Zones for our most at-risk children to find a place for help and hope.”
“Keeping kids safe is a top priority for the City of Long Beach, and we greatly appreciate Supervisor Knabe collaborating with us to create Safe Youth Zones,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “Our public safety departments will continue working with the County of Los Angeles and our community partners to combat human trafficking and protect our young people.”
Said Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell: “My goal for creating the Sheriff’s Department Human Trafficking Bureau has been to identify and rescue victims of trafficking and exploitation. It is both appropriate and necessary that we make available to the public our Sheriff’s Stations as a safe place for those who need them the most.”
Said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby: “Our 173 County fire stations have always been — and will always remain — a safe and welcome zone for youth, especially those seeking help and protection during times of need and desperation. Through Supervisor Knabe’s Safe Youth Zone Program expansion, County fire stations and sheriff’s stations are able to immediately request services for a child, so he or she can be placed in a more healthy, secure environment than what they left.”
“We are pleased to participate in a program that offers a safe place where our youth can seek help and resources,” stated Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. “I would like to thank Supervisor Knabe for his efforts in coordinating this outstanding example of the collective efforts being carried out by our local government to help those who are most vulnerable.”