OAKLAND -- The Oakland Police Department and the FBI have partnered to create the first joint task force focused on sex trafficking and exploitation in the city.
Although the FBI already has a presence in Oakland, it will now be working jointly with the Police Department, said Holly Joshi, chief of staff to interim police Chief Sean Whent and former supervisor of the Child Exploitation Unit.
Joshi worked with an FBI agent to help put the task force together, and an agreement was signed this week. However, numbers, resources and logistics are still being determined.
The task force will give the OPD access to resources it does not currently have access to, such as the FBI intelligence database, Joshi said. Exploiters and pimps often move girls out of the state, and with the FBI's nationwide jurisdiction, the task force could help tackle the issue, she added.
"You're bringing not only additional bodies, but you're also bringing the resources that the federal government has," Joshi said.
International Boulevard in Oakland has been a hotbed for trafficking from 1st Avenue to San Leandro, Joshi said.
Councilman Noel Gallo said sting operations take place almost weekly along the stretch, but there are challenges because of the limited number of police officers available.
"I believe we need all the help we can get," Gallo said, referring to the task force. "I support more police in the street and reaching out to our other law enforcement agencies."
Gallo also said citizens must do their part by reporting prostitution and cooperating with police.
"It's going to have to be a joint effort and not just an Oakland police effort for us to be able to resolve this issue," Gallo said.