Human Trafficking Task Force
Yellowstone County Area, Montana
Signs of Trafficking
NEVER APPROACH A SUSPECTED TRAFFICKING SITUATION!
HISTORY AND MISSION
The Human Trafficking Task Force was created in 2016 to fight human trafficking, by helping to coordinate the efforts of law enforcement, service providers, community groups, and volunteers in Yellowstone County, Montana and in the surrounding areas in their work to investigate and prosecute traffickers, to assist victims of sex trafficking and labor trafficking, to increase community awareness, and prevent future trafficking. It has been registered with the state as a nonprofit since 2020.
The Task Force has grown to over 800 members, representing individuals and over 100 partner organizations and agencies. It is led by co-founders Penny Ronning and Stephanie Baucus, and a steering committee, which includes law enforcement, service providers, and volunteers. The Task Force has been instrumental in increasing public understanding and awareness of sex trafficking and forced labor in rural areas, including IMBs.
The Task Force has conducted over 300 trainings, hosted Montana’s largest trafficking conference, distributed over 70,000 signs of trafficking cards, coordinated public awareness campaigns, helped launch other regional task forces, and coordinated with members to save resources and fill gaps in services.
The mission of the Task Force is to eliminate human trafficking in Montana and our nation, by:
• Increasing awareness and educating the community;
• Engaging and training law enforcement and prosecutors to identify, investigate, and prosecute traffickers;
• Identifying, supporting and protecting victims;
• Assisting educators and others who serve victims and at-risk youth;
• Facilitating coordination and information sharing among service providers, supporting service providers, and developing partnerships to fill service gaps and avoid duplication of efforts;
• Activating government and business leaders;
• Advocating for effective policy; and
• Working together to fight trafficking and protect its victims
Selected Projects, Awards, and Accomplishments
Structure, Leadership, And Membership
The Task Force’s volunteer co-chairs founded the Task Force, along with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office. The Task Force’s Steering Committee (SC) consists of the co-chairs, coordinators, committee chairs, and other leaders.
Volunteer Task Force Leaders
The work of the Task Force is divided into three primary committees and one coordinator position to help manage the Task Force’s partnerships:
The Task Force now includes over 800 representatives from over 100 organizations, including the USAO, FBI, MT and local law enforcement, prosecutors, government, schools, hospitals, nonprofits, churches, businesses, and the community.
Co-Chairs: Melanie Tripp, Zonta
Scott Koch, Whitewood Transport
Co-Chairs: Michele Stewart, FBI
Rhonda Busenitz (USAO), Co-Chair
Georgia Cady, Tumbleweed
Erin Lambert, YWCA
Dr. Cynthia Brewer, Billings Clinic
Erin Harris, Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office
Co-Chair: Brandon Walter, FBI
Co-Chair: Zeno Baucus
Co-Chair: Andy Yedinak, MT DOJ
Erin Walker, End Exploitation Montana
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
There are many ways to get involved in the fight against human trafficking
in our area:
- The Task Force meets quarterly in person at the Billings Public
Library and by Zoom. Please email us to get on the email list, and
you will get notices of those meetings.
- Its three committees each have their own meeting schedules.
- Protection and Victim Services and Prosecution and Law Enforcement meet as needed. Contact us if you work in one of these fields and want to join either of these committees.
- Prevention and Community Awareness meets monthly on the second Tuesday of every month at 11:30 AM at Underriner Honda. Anyone who wants to help fight trafficking in our area is welcomed to join those meetings.
- Contact us at email@example.com with any questions or to be added to our distribution list.
- Join one of our over 100 partner organizations.
- Follow us on:
The Task Force has partnerships with, and members that participate in the Task Force’s work from, over 100 different organizations, including the following selected organizations: