Hard time for publishers and authors

November 27, 2017

Let there be no doubt about it, a writer’s worth in the marketplace is quickly diminishing. Google, Amazon and other giants of the free media age have created a feeding frenzy that’s eating away at an author’s ability to gain just compensation for their work, and larger publishers have moved to a greater emphasis on current best sellers and celebrities.

Smaller publishers are trying to fill the breach and CopWorld Press is in that mix. We want to find and publish law enforcement authors in this increasingly difficult environment, but that doesn’t mean we have lower standards, just a willingness to work with and help authors who have the goods. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to approach any publisher. What follows is a true-life example of exactly the wrong way to do it.

I recently met with an author who’d submitted a manuscript for consideration because we live in the same town and I wanted to help her along her journey. The tag line on the email with her attached manuscript had included the title and the words “a fiction novel.”  I asked her to define a novel. She had no idea that, by definition, it is fiction. She went on to say that she was somewhat confused because her story was partly made up and partly true, and, therefore, the term novel might not apply.

I spent about 40 minutes with her, during which time she twice upbraided me for not having taken the time to read beyond the prologue and initial chapter. I responded that one problem with her manuscript is the too lengthy chapters but gave her an opportunity to provide a verbal synopsis. She did so, without including anything approaching a plot. I asked her what genre her book is. When she acknowledged that she had no idea, I told her that my brief read and her synopsis indicated that it’s a police procedural. When I defined the term at her request, she declared that I was wrong.

I provided a brief history of my four decade journey as a writer, mostly focusing on the lows, and she assured me that her story depicted a female’s experiences in law enforcement which should give her an edge. I agreed that it’s important to get more police books out from the female perspective but went on to tell her some of the many weaknesses her manuscript displayed, including misspellings, tense changes and poor syntax. I urged her to read several police procedurals and books on writing whose titles I provided and recommended that she carefully consider my feedback. Part of that feedback was that the road leading to the professional writing level is a long and arduous one that requires research and a willingness to learn from mistakes. She responded by reminding me that she’d had a couple female friends read her book who “really loved it”– but she would consider my point of view too.

As I stood to leave, I resisted the temptation to expand on or reiterate some of her writing’s failings, instead simply saying something very close to–Just remember, I’m a professional writer and a publisher and they’re not. She responded by assuring me that she intended to pursue other opportunities?

As I descended the few steps to the street, I wondered which aphorism was more applicable, the one from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to not “cast pearls before swine” or the one that guarantees that no good deed goes unpunished….”

 

 

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The Tales Cops Could Tell

April 12, 2017

My new publishing company, CopWorld Press, just got a great article in the Medford Mail Tribune in Oregon. Here is the link. http://www.mailtribune.com/ news/20170410/tales-cops- could-tell.

SDPD Sergeant Wes Albers Authors “Black and White” a police procedural novel.

March 31, 2017

[Ashland, Or] Sergeant Wes Albers of the San Diego Police Department, and author of the novel Black & White, has just signed with CopWorld Press— a new, independent publishing company dedicated to helping authors with a connection to law enforcement tell their stories.

Sergeant Albers has served in a number of different communities throughout San Diego and has extensive field experience as a training officer, evidence technician, border team supervisor and emergency negotiator. He presently serves as Director of the Southern California Writers’ Conferences in San Diego, Los Angeles and Palm Springs where he has spent many years in the writing community helping new and aspiring authors
realize their dreams of publication. When not writing, Wes teaches at Alliant International University.

CopWorld Press, located in Ashland, Or., publishes true crime, mystery fiction, police procedurals, personal memoirs and other genres dealing with cops, crime and/or the “day-to-day experiences of the men and women who so bravely serve our communities and citizens.”

New Publishing Company for Law Enforcement Authors

March 23, 2017

MEDIA RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Contact: Timothy B. Smith—Email: submissions@copworldpress.com; Phone: 541-887-9421

**New Oregon Publishing House to Feature Law Enforcement Authors**

[Ashland, Or] CopWorld Press is a new, independent publishing company dedicated to helping authors with a connection to law enforcement tell their stories. Its books will feature true crime, mystery fiction, police procedurals, personal memoirs and other genres dealing with cops, crime and/or the “day-to-day experiences of the men and women who so bravely serve our communities and citizens.”

Company founder Tim Smith (who writes under the name of T.B. Smith) is a retired police lieutenant from San Diego, Ca, with 27 years of policing experience. In 1984, Pantheon Press published a non-fiction book by British author James McClure called “Cop World: Inside an American Police Force.” McClure utilized the ride-along format to chronicle the  experiences of the San Diego Police Department’s Central Division officers as
part of a broader look at American policing. Smith was one of the officers chronicled under the pseudonym of Luke Jones. Mr. Smith has since written two police procedural novels (The Sticking Place and A Fellow of Infinite Jest, published by Hellgate Press) that feature a Shakespeare quoting cop who uses the name Luke Jones, the name that James McClure gave Smith.”

“Cop World was a look at stories about police as witnessed by and told to an expert author,” says Smith. “But spend an hour or two at the corner bar with a few cops and you’ll soon find they’re the best story tellers on the planet. With that in mind, I formed CopWorld Press, which will work exclusively with law enforcement authors in partnership with my former publisher at Hellgate Press.”

Joining T.B. Smith in the venture is Harley Patrick, owner of L&R Publishing, an Ashland-based company that published Mr. Smith’s first two books under its Hellgate Press imprint (www.hellgatepress.com). Hellgate Press was founded in 1997 and publishes books on military and regional history, veteran memoirs, travel adventure and
historical/adventure fiction. L&R Publishing also publishes children’s books under its Paloma Books imprint (www.palomabooks.com). After receiving a master’s degree in 2000 from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Patrick went to work as an editor at Hellgate Press. In 2007 he purchased the Medford-based company and moved it to Ashland where it has grown to become one of the leading publishers of military history books in the country.

“Law enforcement professionals have such amazing stories to tell,” says Patrick, “and Tim and I are committed to helping them do just that, as well as assisting them in navigating the sometimes complex world of mainstream publishing and distribution.”
For more information, or to submit an author query, visit the CopWorld Press website at
http://www.copworldpress.com.
###

Advice on Writing about Cops

March 22, 2017

Several months ago I spoke to a meeting of Partners In Crime in San Diego and offered to be a resource for any police related questions. Below is a question and answer session with one of the participants.

1) Question: Do police customarily use the 24 hour clock in their verbal discussions of a case, or just say 8:00 pm (as opposed to 20:00)?

1) Answer: Yes, cops use the 24 hour military clock in all things. In my case, it was one of the first things taught in the academy.

2) Question: Is it likely that a police officer, interviewing a witness in their own home, seeing the witness was in distress, would offer to make the witness a warm drink (in the witness’ home)?

2) Answer: It is possible that police officers could offer to make a warm drink. However, it’s much more likely that the officers would ask the victim/witness to make them a drink. This would potentially accomplish several things. It would likely get the witness “out of their head” a little bit as they attended to routine things around the home. It would also establish some rapport as the officers and witness engage in a little domestic ritual that could break down barriers, and it might give the cops an opportunity to casually look around a bit as the witness is busy performing the task. Every bit of information officers can gather about the environment could prove useful.

3) Question: Would a police officer go with a family member (or meet a family member) to the morgue to view their next-of-kin or relative who is deceased? And if the officer needed to question the family member would they do it right then, at the morgue, if the family member was not in too much distress? Or would they go to the police station or another location?

3) Answer: The answer to your question about the morgue requires more clarification. Is this a patrol officer or a homicide investigator? What’s the size of the department? This information is necessary for me to understand the potential resources available. What type of rapport has the officer established with the victim?

It’s highly unlikely that any officer would accompany the victim to the morgue. However, this is your world that you’re creating. Is there a strong connection established that would compel the victim/family member to ask the officer to go with them in a support role. If so, find a way to make it happen through character development and interaction.

As far as the questioning goes, the officer would not engage in any sort of formal interrogation under the circumstances but could certainly utilize the the opportunity for casual and useful conversation. There’s one important point to remember here, there is no need to provide the person with their constitutional rights unless they’re in a custodial situation, meaning that the victim/witness is not free to leave. If the officer ever does develop enough information to lawfully detain that person, that is the time for the admonishment. Open ended conversation that could develop new information or line of inquiry is an open possibility until that time. If the officer wants a more formal discussion, that could happen at the police station, the home of the witness or any other place that would be suitable to the situation. If you want the victim/witness to feel intimidated, the police station is the place. If you want them to feel comfortable or safe, use your imagination for the right place.

4) Question: Is it possible to recover fingerprints from a rope?

4) Answer: Uncovering prints from a rope is problematic. The surface is likely slick and there’s even a good chance that a suspect could clutch the rope with their palm without ever touching it with their fingers. However, if you want the rope to be part of the solution, there are several ways to accomplish this. Are there remnants of the victim’s blood present? If so, have the suspect unwittingly grasp the rope where the blood is. Is the rope stored in a garage or some other place that might cause grease to be present? If so, there’s your solution. Prints could be found in the grease. Depending on the situation, it’s also possible for trace evidence to be present. Has the suspect lost a hair in a struggle that can be recovered? How about a little fleck off of the victim’s shirt or jacket or a button being left behind? This is where the author creates a situation that occurs to their benefit as the creator of their own world. If one of these things occurs, find a way to weave it in and make it part of the case solving narrative.

More Police Procedural Writer’s Questions Answered

August 13, 2016

Here’s a second round of questions from a writer seeking advice about police policies and procedures for a book she’s writing. I’m including the Q&A in a blog so that other writers tackling police issues can benefit from the information. My answers are in bold.

Q.  I have a couple more questions. Can my rookie cop have the same partner after she completes her probation period?

A.  Here’s where things get a little complicated. This may depend upon the size, and or, policies of the department. First, it’s important to point out that there’s a difference between a rookie and a trainee. If she’s a trainee, it’s likely the department would like her to work alone or with a different partner than her training officer upon graduating from the training program. However, that’s not set in stone. If she’s a rookie who’s on probation, then it’s probable there wouldn’t be any problem with her continuing to work with the same partner when her probationary period ends.

Q.  And what is the chain of command? I have her having a Sergeant as well as the Captain. But I watched Southland and they referred to the Watch Commander as the boss, and the rookie had to be assigned a different partner after graduation.

A. This situation is also more complicated than it appears at first glance. The chain of command is likely to differ depending upon the size of the department. If it’s a large department, then the rank structure is likely to be officer, sergeant, lieutenant, then captain. Ranks above captain are likely to vary depending upon the individual policies of the department.

The watch commander position is actually outside of the normal chain of command. He or she is likely to be the ranking officer in charge of the patrol functions of a specific shift. They may also be responsible for approving bookings to verify that the arresting officer has met all of the standards of probable cause, department policy etc.

If you’re a writer with questions regarding police issues, feel free to send them along. I’ll respond and turn the exchange into a blog for the benefit of others.                                                     ~T.B.  Smith 

 

Answers to Reader’s Questions: Getting it “right” when writing police procedural crime fiction

August 7, 2016

Not long ago, I spoke to a group in San Diego and made an ongoing offer to field email questions from participants regarding police issues as they relate to their writing. I recently received my first question. What follows is a slightly edited version of our email exchange.

 

Q-Thank you for speaking at the Partners in Crime meeting a couple of months ago. I enjoyed your presentation, and so appreciate your willingness to help us writers get it right when writing about police.

I’m hoping you can answer a question for me. I have a character who has been on the job less than a year, is (with her cop partner) first on the scene of a murder, and it turns out she was best friends with the granddaughter of the woman who lives in the house. The victim was her best friend’s uncle.

She doesn’t realize at first that she knows the family. Then when she does, she keeps thinking she’ll tell her partner, but doesn’t want to until she talks to her old (estranged) friend. Then after she sees the friend, she realizes she doesn’t know as much as she thought she did, or the friend is lying to her, and she makes up her mind to tell her partner.

 

As she’s about to do so, he goes off on how he hates people who can’t keep secrets.

Finally she makes a list of pros and cons to help her decide what to do.

Here’s the question: What kind of trouble could she potentially be in for not saying she knew a member of the victim’s family? (the murder investigation is ongoing)

 

A-As stated, your character’s situation doesn’t sound too tenuous. But I need to know the role she and her partner play in the investigation. If they’re patrol officers who are dispatched to the murder scene, their main and perhaps sole functions are to secure the scene for homicide investigators and perhaps do some witness canvassing. If they’re investigators, then there needs to be a clear explanation of why an officer with so little experience would be placed in that position. If your character obtains some information through her previous friendships then fails to disclose to her superiors, that could be cause for serious discipline up to and including termination. That may be more trouble than you want to deal with, but it could also be the source of a lot of conflict that could propel the plot in interesting ways. I guess what I’m saying is, I need to know more to fully answer the question but I’m happy to engage in ongoing discussion if you’d find that helpful.

 

Q-My character and her partner were first on the scene at the murder. They secured the scene, and she was allowed to do a first interview of the mother of the victim, as well as one of the sisters of the victim. My character (Regan) was friends with a granddaughter/niece when they were both in 8th grade. They’ve been estranged since junior year of high school. Regan doesn’t tell her partner (or anyone) that she realizes she knows the family, was friends with Beth. Regan contacts Beth, talks to her about why they’re not still close, then tries to question her re the murder victim.

 

A-That all sounds reasonable. I’d add some little explanation about why she did the initial interview. Something like her partner wanted to give her the experience. If that’s the case, he could monitor the interview which would ratchet up the conflict a bit when she tells him of the deception by omission 

 

Q=As I’ve written it, Nick dresses her down, tells her she could lose her job, etc., but in the end, he says she just needs to let the detectives on the case know what she knows, and not to withhold information in the future.

The thing they don’t know yet is Beth is the killer.
While I didn’t include this in the email exchange. There wouldn’t be much point in including this episode unless her friend did turn out to be the killer. The sole exception that I can think of is if it were necessary for some deep character development for the young officer.

Editor Jean Jenkins, with a Crime Fiction Affinity, Q & A

July 26, 2016

Jean Jenkins is a freelance editor par excellence. Her efforts have improved the works of many talented and successful writers. Her input can be invaluable for authors who intend to produce superior product. She’s agreed to answer some questions that should prove helpful for writers who are trying to break into the industry. This is the first of a two part Q&A interview.

Q.  Your email contact information has the number 187 in it, the California penal code section for murder. Does that imply a preference for working with writers who produce crime fiction in its various forms?

A.   Mystery/thriller/procedural/crime fiction has always been my favorite genre to read and to work with as an editor. With a medical background and a fair number of forensics classes under my belt, as well as 25-plus years of editing for members of the law enforcement community, I have a good understanding of their world, the policies and procedures and codes, and what restraints and talents LEOs bring to the table. My email handle, 187writer, says exactly who I am—a writer/editor with a particular interest in the genre. And although I read and edit almost all genres, from biography to romance to young adult, crime fiction in all its forms remains my favorite to work with.

 

Q.   You’re active working with the Southern California Writers Conference which helps you keep up on current publishing trends. Do you encourage your clients to go the traditional route of trying to secure an agent who will shop their work to a major New York publisher, or do you guide them more toward smaller publishers or publishing themselves?

A.   There are myriad ways writers can go these days, and all have their good and not-so-good points. For the most part, I think story and talent are huge factors in choosing the publishing path a writer should take. These days, the Big Five (major publishers) and smaller publishers are not far apart in what they can offer a writer’s career. Granted, the larger publishers may pay a bigger advance and have a bit more bucks to add to a publicity campaign, but the days of big advances and whole-page ads for a book are pretty much gone. In fact, a writer may get more attention and care from a smaller publisher than from one of the bigs. I try to encourage all writers to work with an agent because that’s their voice into the industry. A good agent will fight your battles, raise necessary questions, and work hard to reserve (or sell) foreign and film rights when appropriate. Most writers know little if anything about various rights, and huge mistakes are sometimes made with one stroke of the pen. As for self-publishing, I have seen writers with limited talent and small stories who are right to make the choice to self-publish. But all too often, I see writers who sell themselves short by self-pubbing and taking on all the effort of marketing when their writing/story is by far good enough to stand up to a publishers’ requirements. One of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is typing ‘the end’ then deciding that their story has to get out immediately so they self-publish. We’re hearing outcries about typos and story problems with self-published books and those happen because the writer was in a hurry. Remember, your name is on that book; you want to be proud of it.

 

Q.   Burgeoning writers are constantly encouraged to grab the reader’s attention with the first line, paragraph and page. It’s logical from there to have a solid grasp on their prospective climax. My experience is that maintaining the reader’s interest throughout the seemingly interminable bridge that takes you from one end to the other is a lot more difficult. Do you have any advice for holding the thread together throughout the book?

A.   Two words that the writer should keep top-of-mind are Focus and Motivation. A character is the sum total of his life experience that he brings to the scene. He or she will act and react based upon training, yes, but will also reason and react based upon prior situations, knowledge and experiences. That’s a nuanced character, someone who comes alive on the page. A character who reaches out and grabs the reader. What motivates this character to take the next logical step will lie in his training and/or background. That’s why Motivation is so important. Without it, a character just moves around the page doing things the writer thinks up; he’s not acting logically. And when that happens, the story falters. As for Focus, the main character starts with a goal—find the kid, recover the money, uncover the corruption, loose the gang’s stranglehold on a neighborhood—and every move he makes (if his motivation is true) brings him closer to that goal. Motivation keeps your character taking the next logical step, and Focus keeps you, the writer, centered on the crux of the story—what your main character is trying to achieve. It’s also important to remember that no one exists or operates in a bubble, so everyone your main character comes in contact with is a potential mini-story or relationship or pithy scene that brings heart to the overall story and adds dimension to your main character. As long as you, the writer, focus on the story while your characters are driven with honest Motivation, you’ll be fine.

 

 Q.   Is it safe to assume that you have more prospective clients than you’re actually able to accommodate? If so, what do you look for to decide who has the goods to make it worth the time and effort?

 A.   An editor’s schedule is always a bit of feast or famine. At times there is more work than you can do, and at other times, while writers begin new projects or their work goes more slowly than expected, gaps appear in the editor’s calendar. I delight in finding a writer who’s almost ready to publish and lifting their product, and their skills, to the next level. I never consider if a project is worth my time and effort because this is someone’s dream, and I never want to take away a dream. I approach it more from a ‘how can I help’ perspective. Sometimes I’ll suggest a writer slow down and find a weekly or bi-weekly workshop where they can get hands-on help from other writers for a while. But most of the time, writers are able to take the notes I give them (length varies from a few pages to a 50-page editorial letter) and work from those notes to transform their story from second draft to commercially marketable. It’s the writer’s job to make their story the very best it can be, then it’s my job to show them how to make it better. Remember, as so many have said, good writing is rewriting and more rewriting, then knowing when to let go.

The Current State of Publishing: Q & A with Hellgate Press

July 12, 2016
hellgateHi Harley: Thanks for agreeing to take the time to answer some questions about the current state of publishing.
You’re the publisher of Hellgate Press that primarily publishes war memoirs but also has a small fiction component and has recently begun publishing children’s books.
Q:  How much are you focused on eBooks and what do you think the next five years holds for that niche in the publishing market?
A:  We simultaneously publish print and ebook versions of every title. Over the past 5 years, we’ve seen a tremendous growth in ebook sales, to the point where now they regularly outsell the print versions. I see no reason for that trend to change over the next 5 years. While I think the printed book will always be with us, it definitely now shares the marketplace with its ebook counterpart. And for authors and publishers alike, that’s a great trend, as there is more profit in ebooks because you eliminate the  cost of printing—which is substantial.
Q: Do you think that the increase in self published works has had a negative or positive impact on the quality of the books in the marketplace?
A:  I guess it depends on how we define the “marketplace.” The mainstream booksellers, such as Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Millions and others, don’t typically sell self-published works, so that marketplace really hasn’t been affected. Amazon and other online sellers do, and I think, while there are many well-written, even well-regarded self-published works, many of those authors are new to the world of writing (particularly fiction) and labor under the false notion that all you have to do to write a book is sit down at a computer and start typing. Many of the manuscripts that come across my desk, and even some previously self-published works that are submitted to Hellgate Press, are frankly not ready for publishing. For those, we recommend  that the authors find a professional editor/proofreader who can work with them to get the book ready for publication. Once they do that, we will then reconsider the book for publication. On the upside, while self-publishing may have brought many amateur writers to the marketplace who are not quite ready for it, it has also resulted in some wonderful books that might not have otherwise been published.
Q:  Which is more important to you when approached by a new author, their credentials to write the book, or the quality of the writing in your correspondence?
A:  It depends, and is probably more often than not a combination of the two. An author who has no direct experience with his/her subject matter may be able to craft lovely prose, but the facts need to be accurate and reflect either a good deal of research and/or personal experience. If not, then it really won’t matter how good the writing is. And if the expertise is there, but the writing is less than perfect, well that’s where a good editor comes in. But of course editors are no substitute for experience with the subject matter. And this is true whether we’re talking fiction or nonfiction. In the area of military history, for example, a writer better have the facts, the jargon, the specifics, etc., absolutely correct, or we’ll hear about it. But we rarely hear complaints about the writing style. Of course I attribute some of that to the fact that we do work with our authors to make sure they’re putting their best writing foot forward.
Q:  What does your publishing experience teach you about the viability of fiction vs. non-fiction? In other words, what type of book sells best and should there be a stronger incentive to write one form over the other?
A:  To be honest, neither type of book is selling in the numbers that they used to. According to Publishers’ Weekly, “The average U.S. nonfiction book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.” Numbers for fiction books are even lower. Consider that every book published is competing with more than 10 million other books for sale at the same time! At Hellgate Press, we sell many more (maybe twice as many) nonfiction books than fiction. But that could be due to our main niche being military related topics. I would imagine that if we published romance-related titles, our novels might well outsell our “how-to” books.
I personally think nonfiction is an easier sell, particularly because of the competition in fiction writing. If you write well, have intimate knowledge of your subject matter, and, if necessary are willing to work with a good editor/proofreader, you can produce a high quality, marketable non-fiction book in relatively short order. But if you’re working on the great American novel, or a lengthy piece of historical fiction, you’re competing with the very best writers in the world, or at least writers who have studied and practiced the craft for a long time. And you better have an excellent mastery of prose, dialog, pacing, plot, metaphor, structure, etc., or the reviews could be brutal. And while good reviews may or may not help with sales, a bad review definitely hurts. So I think the old advice is the best advice: Write what you know. And if you know how to write well, then give fiction a go. But if writing is something you’ve always wanted to do, but really haven’t studied it (and I mean formally, at a well-respected university or with a professional mentor), then non-fiction may be the better choice.
Q:  You’re planning on establishing a new imprint called Copworld Press that will exclusively publish authors with a law enforcement background. Why is that group of writers important to you and what do you think they can bring to the marketplace?
A:  This speaks to my earlier comments about writing what you know. While I don’t think you have to be a military veteran to write about military topics, it’s been my experience over the last 16 years that it certainly helps. I believe the same is true when writing within the law enforcement/true crime genre. Like the military, law enforcement has its own community, its own jargon, rules of conduct, etc. And although not impossible, it’s more difficult for an outsider to “get it right.” And getting it right can make the difference between success and failure when writing about a particular group or profession.
I enjoy publishing books written by those who serve and are affected by that service, and law enforcement professionals certainly fall into that category. And as a publisher, I know that the genre is a popular one, and one that can only benefit by an influx of writers who know what they’re writing about. So, I’m seeing it as a win-win opportunity to bring new writers with solid credentials and a wealth of experience to the genre, and, in so doing, provide a publishing opportunity for those who perhaps have found it difficult to get their work into the mainstream. And, of course, sell some books in the process!
Learn more about Hellgate Press at https://hellgatepress.com

San Diego Fights Back Against Sex Trafficking

May 20, 2016

On December 20, 2014, the “Los Angeles Times” published an article entitled “San Diego region has become hub of gang-controlled prostitution rings.” By way of example, it covered a recent human trafficking enforcement operation that occurred in Eastern San Diego County. The operation resulted in the indictment of twenty-two suspected gang members and their associates for running a multi-state prostitution ring. Similar indictments in recent years have targeted gangs in the city of Oceanside and the North Park neighborhood of San Diego.

San Diego’s gang activities related to sex trafficking are no different than those employed by other gangs across the nation. In the last several years, crimes related to human trafficking have expanded because it, and its off-shoots, are lucrative businesses. Gangsters prey on society’s most vulnerable children, those who live in foster homes and impoverished neighborhoods.

After working with communities across the United States on this topic, I feel it’s imperative to assert that San Diego is NOT a unique hub of gang-controlled prostitution as asserted in the Times article. A more accurate description is that San Diego has a coalition of courageous leaders and policy makers who aggressively protect our communities. They work tirelessly to prevent human trafficking from occurring and prioritize enforcement that recovers victims and prosecutes suspects. In fact, San Diego is one of the first communities to respond to human trafficking and set a high standard for collaboratively combating both labor and sex trafficking.

In 2011, Diane Jacobs and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors teamed with District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Sheriff Bill Gore to form the “San Diego Regional Human Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Advisory Council.” Its goal is to implement a holistic, county-wide approach that integrates prevention, protection and prosecution partnerships.

In the past, crimes of this nature were the purview of police and prosecutors alone.  With today’s broader perspective, expertise and collaboration openly occur among professionals in education, law enforcement, child welfare, faith-based programs, victim service providers, university researchers and many other dedicated community members.

The San Diego Police Department’s Vice Unit, the FBI’s Innocence Lost Task Force and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department are some of the most aggressive and highly trained law enforcement professionals in this area of criminal activity. In 2003, District Attorney Dumanis formed the Sex Crimes and Human Trafficking Division with specialized prosecutors, investigators and victim advocates. The local United States Attorney’s Office has seen a 600 percent increase in human trafficking cases in the last five years.  In other words, these timely enforcement actions and strategies brought awareness to impacted communities sooner than elsewhere.  While local media are important partners in this fight, it’s critical that San Diego is not mis-characterized. San Diego is uniquely positioned to serve as a national example by holistically addressing trafficking crimes with aggregate expertise that effectively combats domestic human trafficking.  The strategies are being noticed by the federal government and heralded as a best-practice approach for replication nationwide.

The fact that the San Diego community recognized the scourge of domestic human trafficking and quickly took action in the form of training, awareness presentations, policy changes and three major law enforcement operations, should not create the impression that human trafficking gangs are any more prolific here.  Being known as a hub of sex trafficking is a distinction this community does not deserve. San Diego should be seen as a community with talented leaders who care enough about our children to forge strategies that break down bureaucratic barriers to arrest and prosecute criminals and save our children.