Trenton – Acting to provide a safe place to go for survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill sponsored by Senator Fred Madden that would establish “safe havens” for them in firehouses, where they can find refuge and be referred to the appropriate organizations and services for help.
The bill, S-2626, would have the Attorney General work with the Department of Children and Families, the Commission on Human Trafficking and the Advisory Council on Domestic Violence to develop the program designating the firehouse havens. The bill would allocate $1 million to provide training to the firefighters to accommodate the survivors and to refer them to law enforcement, emergency shelters, legal aid or other community resources.
“These survivors are often in threatening situations and don’t know where to go for help,” said Senator Madden (D-Gloucester/Camden). “Firehouses are well known and trusted locations where they can find safe havens before being referred to other organizations according to their needs. They will know that firehouses will provide security and assistance in times of need.”
The help would be provided regardless of citizenship status, according to the bill.
According to law enforcement reports more than 63,000 domestic violence incidents were reported in New Jersey in 2020 and close to 1,800 cases of human trafficking involving more than 3,880 victims occurred in the state since 2007, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
These crimes are likely underreported said Senator Madden, who served as the Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police before being elected to the State Senate. Designating firehouses as safe havens will “open an additional door for help,” he said.