At Dallas Super Bowl, High Attention and Low Arrest Totals on Human Trafficking

Before the Super Bowl in Dallas, Harriet Boorhem, president of Promise House children’s shelter was contacted by the Dallas Police Department. Boorhem said that the detective asked to use Promise House as a shelter for underage prostitutes that were picked up during the sporting event.

Boorhem said that based on that conversation, they were expecting thousands. The number they actually got was zero.

“We didn’t get any,” Boorhem said. “It seems the number was really inflated…I don’t know how it got blown up so big.”

Warren Mitchell from the Police Media Relations Unit of the Dallas Police Department confirmed that the number of human trafficking arrests made during the Super Bowl was low.

“We made one arrest of an adult male for Trafficking of Humans (Adult) and Attempt Compelling Prostitution [of a 14-year-old minor],” Mitchell related in an e-mail to Youth Today. “The one arrest was connected to…two recovered victims, [an] adult and [a] minor.”

That result defied the expectations of many. On Wednesday Nov. 17, at a meeting of the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott labeled the Super Bowl “one of the biggest human-trafficking events in the United States.”

The KlaasKids Foundation reported 23 direct contacts with potential commercial sexual exploitation victims during the 2010 Super Bowl in Miami. The organization also reported recovering six missing children and “intervening in four potentially dangerous situations, removing five girls from potential recruitment or exploitation by pimps.”

“As with any major event, persons who want to victimize others will try and exploit the opportunity provided by the increased number of people,” Mitchell said.

According to the Polaris Project, Texas has one of the highest percentages of calls to their Human Trafficking Hotline. The problem is, according to Owens, this doesn’t necessarily mean that human trafficking is more prevalent in Texas.

Mitchell said the High Risk Victims Unit handles approximately 200 to 250 high-risk victims each year. Of that, approximately half (100 to 125) are identified as being victims of some form of domestic trafficking.

Currently Owens, along with Northeastern University and other researchers from the Justice Policy Center, are studying cases of human trafficking between 2000 and 2008, trying to identify the problems that come with trying to identify how much of the crime is actually going on, and where it most often occurs.

According to Mitchell, the High-Risk Victims Unit of the Dallas Police focuses on identifying possible victims through chronic runaways and repeat victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.

He also said that the Dallas police dedicated additional resources to their regular unit and procedures to finding victims at the Super Bowl.

“In additions to the specialized unit, the Dallas Police Department is in the process of training all officers in the department on the High Risk Victims Model and the dynamics of domestic trafficking of children,” said Mitchell.

 “There’s a lot of task forces in Texas and a lot of awareness there,” Owens said. “And they are doing a great job on the investigation side.”


Youth Today is the only independent, internationally distributed digital media publication that is read by thousands of professionals in the youth service field.

Youth Today adheres to high-quality journalistic standards, providing readers with professional news coverage dedicated to examining a wide spectrum of complex issues in the youth services industry from legislation to community-based youth work.


Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue.


We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. Donors may be quoted, mentioned or featured in our stories. Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors. Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions…(read more)



Recent Comments

Kennesaw State University Mountain Logo & Ceneter for Sustainable Journalism Logo
LOGO Institute for Nonprofit News 3 turquoise boxes stacked in "J" shape

Copyright © 2018 Youth Today and MVP Themes --- Published by Center for Sustainable Journalism,
Kennesaw State University, 1200 Chastain Blvd. Suite 310, Kennesaw GA 30144

To Top