New Pomona police team fights prostitution and human trafficking on Holt Avenue

For years, Pomona police have taken a victim-centered approach when it comes to addressing human trafficking and prostitution along the busy Holt Avenue corridor.

But the Police Department’s efforts, part of a larger program focused on a wide range of issues in the city, will be overhauled in 2020. Beginning this month, the department will Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking Team.

Known as the SET team, the two-officer team will focus its efforts on curbing prostitution in Pomona. The team will be overseen by longtime Officers Angela Torres and Diana Hernandez, police Chief Michael Olivieri announced at a council meeting in December.

“Both of these officers are our most experienced and have the most expertise on this subject,” he said. “They take a victim-centered approach, trying to help those that are trafficked; or constantly being that voice in that ear to get people out of that lifestyle.”

The two officers will be assigned full time to the Holt Corridor – Holt Avenue and adjacent areas in Pomona – an area where prostitution is known to take place, according to police. Vice officer sweeps have previously been made in the area.

During a five-day prostitution sting operation in June 2019, police arrested 15 women on suspicion of prostitution or loitering for prostitution, and 15 men on suspicion of soliciting undercover officers for various sex acts.

“They will be a constant presence and will have the ability to get help from other officers on other details,” Olivieri said of the new SET team.

OIivieri established the new team shortly before announcing that he plans to retire earlier than expected. The chief told Police Department staff on Christmas morning that he will leave the city at the end of January, not in October as originally planned.

Councilman Rubio Gonzalez, who has made ending human trafficking and prostitution in Pomona one of his top priorities, applauded Olivieri’s move to establish the SET team.

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