Arizona Interdiction for the Protection of Children Program

In July 2014, Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) instructors braved the hot Arizona sun to teach the first Interdiction for the Protection of Children (IPC) class in Arizona to more than 200 Arizona Department of Public Safety (ADPS) troopers. While Arizona’s saguaro cacti were new to the Texans, the concept of looking for more than an unrestrained child during a traffic stop was new to the Arizonans. During the class, Arizona troopers from all ranks reflected on the children they overlooked during traffic stops because “they didn’t know what they didn’t know.” Within a day of the class, though, Arizona State Troopers reported their first child rescue following the lessons taught during this innovative program. ADPS management and troopers were sold on the value of this program, and the Arizona IPC Program was created.

After Arizona DPS brought Texas DPS back for two more classes in December 2014, TxDPS obtained a grant from the United States Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) for an IPC Train-the-Trainer course. In 2015, ADPS, with participation from Childhelp and the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS), applied for and was accepted into the Texas DPS IPC Train-the-Trainer program. TxDPS came back to Arizona one last time in August 2015 to teach the Train-the-Trainer class to the Arizona IPC instructor team; seven Arizona instructors were certified to teach IPC. With many Arizona law enforcement officers eager to receive the IPC training and the Arizona IPC team excited to get started, Arizona DPS put on the first Arizona instructor-taught IPC class in December 2015. It was a huge success!

Largely because of the investigatory skills and knowledge gained from these classes, troopers have rescued 40 children who were runaways, missing, abducted, exploited, or at risk of being victimized since 2014. For instance, in April 2015, an Arizona State Trooper stopped to assist two occupants of a disabled vehicle along an interstate highway in Phoenix. During the contact, the trooper discovered the vehicle was reported stolen. After a short foot pursuit, the adult male driver was apprehended and found to have felony warrants for probation violations. The 17-year-old female passenger was found to be a runaway. Having attended the IPC class, an assisting DPS sergeant recognized indicators that caused him to suspect the juvenile might be a victim of sex trafficking. The sergeant immediately notified DPS detectives to help with the investigation. Detectives discovered that the juvenile had met the male driver an hour before they were contacted by the trooper. While in a runaway status, the juvenile was staying with another male adult, and she had been approached by a female adult who offered to act as her "pimp." The juvenile was also an investigative lead in a local agency’s sex trafficking investigation.

To date, the IPC class has been taught to over 625 law enforcement officers, Department of Child Safety employees, probation officers, prosecutors, and child advocates from more than 45 different federal, tribal, state, and local agencies in Arizona.

In 2016, the Arizona DPS Interdiction for the Protection of Children Program’s goal is to increase the number of children rescued by training more officers and providing more opportunities to contact endangered children. They plan to conduct four IPC trainings throughout Arizona, participate in multi-state Crimes Against Children operations, and coordinate additional human trafficking truck stop details. Through the continued dedication of the IPC instructors, Arizona troopers, and their community partners, Arizona DPS will continue to build its army of IPC warriors and will be able to help more children who may be just one traffic stop away from being rescued.

Jennifer Pinnow, Captain
Arizona Department of Public Safety

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