About the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission
The issue of human trafficking has been important to Attorney General Schuette since taking office. At the national level, he immediately took a leadership role with the National Association of Attorneys General's Pillars of Hope initiative, and continues to work the issue nationally. He also formed the first Human Trafficking prosecution unit within the Department of Attorney General (DAG). During this time, it became apparent that human trafficking laws in Michigan needed revision and expansion. In 2013, the Attorney General collaborated with the Legislature to form the first Michigan Human Trafficking Commission. For six months, this Commission and its subcommittees, including many DAG staff members, worked to develop appropriate policy recommendations, resulting in a comprehensive legislative package that was passed in 2014, and took effect in early 2015.
Standing Human Trafficking Commission
PA 325 of 2014 created a standing Human Trafficking Commission within the Department of Attorney General (DAG). Commission members are appointed by the Governor to represent various groups and public officials. This Commission will build upon the work completed by the DAG Human Trafficking Commission in 2013.
The mission of the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission as set forth in statute includes:
- Identifying sources for grants that will assist in examining and countering human trafficking in this state, and applying for those grants when appropriate.
- Funding research programs to determine the extent and nature of human trafficking in Michigan.
- Providing information and training regarding human trafficking to:
- Police officers
- Court personnel
- Health care providers
- Social services personnel
- Other individuals the commission considers appropriate
- Collecting and analyzing information regarding human trafficking in Michigan.
- Identifying state and local agencies within Michigan and other states, as well as within the federal government, that are involved with issues relating to human trafficking, and coordinating the dissemination of information regarding human trafficking in Michigan to those agencies.
- Reviewing existing services available to assist human trafficking victims, including crime victim assistance, health care, and legal assistance, and establishing a program to make those victims better aware of the services available to them.
- Establishing a program to improve public awareness of human trafficking.
Human Trafficking Commission Members
On March 5, Governor Snyder appointed the following people to be members of the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission:
Valerie Bass is a certified peer support specialist with the Washtenaw County Human Trafficking Court out of the 14-B District Court. She also has served as a peer support specialist with the Home of New Vision women’s group. Bass represents survivors.
Beth Emmitt, of Byron Center, is the Director of Scheduling for Snyder. She has worked in state government for more than 12 years, previously serving as the Department of State liaison to the Michigan Women's Commission. Ms. Emmitt earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Hope College. She is also a 2010 graduate of the Michigan Political Leadership Program and will serve as the designated representative from within the Office of the Governor.
David Leyton, of Flint, is the Prosecutor for Genesee County. He was previously Flint Township Clerk and a partner of Leyton & Kasle PLC. He is past-president of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan and served as a member of the Attorney General's 2013 Human Trafficking Commission. Leyton earned bachelor's degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Toledo and a law degree from Cooley Law School. He represents county prosecuting attorneys.
Kathy Maitland, of Sterling Heights, is Executive Director of the Michigan Abolitionist Project. She also worked in various roles for Hewlett Packard. She has been active in anti-human trafficking work and prevention efforts since 2012. Maitland earned a bachelor's degree in business management and organizational development from Spring Arbor University. She represents individuals recommended by the Senate Majority Leader.
Deborah Monroe is a senior partner, peer specialist, and recovery educator at Recovery Concepts of Michigan. She served as a medical administrative assistant at Family Practice and an office clerk at the law office of Charles Roehl. Monroe is a certified peer support specialist, advance level wrap facilitator, certified recovery coach, and certified medical administrative assistant. She represents survivors.
Cheryl Pezon, of Michigan Center, is a Policy Adviser for the Bureau of Health Care Services in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. She previously served as a policy analyst in the Senate Majority Policy Office and worked as an attorney in private practice. Pezon earned a bachelor's degree in employment relations and psychology from Michigan State University and a law degree from Michigan State University. She serves as the designee of the Director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
Edward Price, of Oak Park, is a Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant in the Second District Special Investigation Section. Price is assigned to the Southeast Michigan Crimes Against Children Task Force, an FBI Task Force that investigates the exploitation of children by means of sex trafficking. He is the human trafficking liaison to the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office for the Michigan State Police and is a member of the U.S. Eastern District of Michigan Project Safe Childhood Training Team. He serves as the designee of the Director of the Michigan State Police.
Michelle Rick, of DeWitt, is the 29th Circuit Court's family court judge and also presides over the criminal division. Judge Rick is a legislative and executive committee member of the Michigan Judicial Association and a member of the Gratiot County Community Corrections Board. Rick earned a bachelor's degree in social science from Michigan State University and a law degree from the University of Detroit School of Law. She represents circuit court judges.
Herbert Smitherman Jr., of Detroit, is CEO of Health Centers Detroit Foundation and Assistant Dean of Community and Urban Health as well as Associate Professor of Medicine at the Wayne State University Medical School. Dr. Smitherman earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University, a doctorate from the University of Cincinnati, and a master's degree in public health and health services administration from the University of Michigan. He represents individuals recommended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Tom Tiderington, of Plymouth, has been Chief of the Plymouth Township Police Department since 2001. He helped found the first human trafficking special investigations division in Ft. Lauderdale during his time in the department. Tiderington earned an associate degree in criminal justice from Mercy College of Detroit and a bachelor's degree in police administration from Florida Atlantic University. He represents law enforcement.
Human Trafficking Commission Meetings
The Michigan Human Trafficking Commission is required to meet at least four times per year. Unless otherwise advised, all meetings will be held in the G. Mennen Williams Building, 525 West Ottawa Street, Lansing, MI 48909. Meetings are open to the public, and subject to the Open Meetings Act.
Human Trafficking Commission Minutes
The Michigan Human Trafficking Commission is housed in the Department of Attorney General. For more information, please send inquiries to:
Michigan Human Trafficking Commission
G. Mennen Williams Building
525 West Ottawa Street
P.O. Box 30212
Lansing, Michigan 48909
You may also email the Project Manager of the Human Trafficking Commission, Assistant Attorney General Michelle Brya at BryaM@michigan.gov.
2013 Michigan Human Trafficking Commission
To fight human trafficking in Michigan, Attorney General Bill Schuette is leading the charge with the first ever Michigan Human Trafficking Commission. The Commission's work was with a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach that emphasized that the men, women, and children who are trafficked are victims-not criminals. The 2013 Commission had two goals:
- Assess the threat human trafficking poses to Michigan residents; and
- Develop policy recommendations to promote its exposure and prevention.
In March 2013, Schuette, with co-chair Rep. Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth), other legislators, law enforcement personnel, and activists, worked tirelessly to fulfill the mission of the 2013 Commission. They reviewed data collection of trafficking crimes, services offered to victims, current state legislation regarding criminal punishment, as well as professional training to recognize signs of trafficking and current public awareness of this crime.
After more than six months of review, the Commission developed wide-ranging recommendations as an action-oriented agenda for policymakers. The report's key recommendations included:
Strengthening Legal Protections for Human Trafficking Victims - The Commission called for the passage of a Safe Harbor law to ensure minor victims are treated as victims in need of services, not criminals.
Expanding Real Assistance for Human Trafficking Victims - The Commission recommended expanding housing for trafficking victims who have nowhere to turn after being rescued from their trafficker.
Toughening Laws to Target Traffickers and "Johns" - The Commission recommended increasing penalties for "johns" who solicit sex from 16 and 17 year-olds from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Strengthening Forfeiture Laws - The Commission also recommended strengthening state forfeiture laws to reduce trafficker's ability to profit from the exploitation of children, women and men.
Increasing Public Awareness - The Commission recommended a statewide public awareness campaign and human trafficking poster law to elevate the discussion and awareness that human trafficking happens in the Great Lakes State.
Tracking the State's Progress - The Commission recommends the implementation of a standard, comprehensive method for capturing human trafficking data from entities that interact with trafficking victims.
As a result of the 2013 Commission's recommendations, and ongoing involvement and advocacy of Commission members, a comprehensive human trafficking legislative package was introduced and passed in 2014. (See Michigan Human Trafficking Laws) The standing Michigan Human Trafficking Commission was established as a result of the 2013 recommendations.
Download your copy of the 2013 Report on Human Trafficking.