Monday, February 7, 2022
Congratulations to Jeff Goltz, executive dean, School of Public Safety (SPS), for being presented the Polaris Star Award for the Higher Educational Leader of the Year in a ceremony at University of Central Florida’s (UCF) Rosen School of Hospitality on Wednesday, January 26, 2022.
Each year, United Abolitionists President Tomas Lares, Paving the Way President Jan Edwards and other regional anti-human trafficking groups honor those who engage in special ways in the fight against human trafficking with the Central Florida Polaris Star Award. This award is named after the Polaris Star, also known as the North Star, used by slaves to find their way north to freedom along the Underground Railroad, and it is given to the modern-day abolitionists in our community who are leading the fight against human trafficking in their profession and/or sphere of influence.
Jeff joined the fight against human trafficking in 2014 after learning about its challenges in Central Florida at the annual Orange County Sheriff’s crime summit.
Valencia College’s Efforts Against Human Trafficking
In 2015, Valencia’s SPS and Continuing Education teams prepared a three-day workshop that presented a system-wide, multi-disciplinary approach to fight trafficking in Central Florida and highlighted several components of the fight against trafficking, a “tips to trial to recovery” approach, to include the shocking testimony of a survivor. Her testimony was a “call to action” for Jeff.
After this workshop, Jeff and Hugh Potter from UCF’s Criminal Justice Department gathered 19 regional experts, professors and administrators from several disciplines, to write a book about the workshop.
“I knew we had to tell the story of our village in Central Florida — the village that was fighting human trafficking in our back yard,” Jeff shared. “It is a ‘science-to-service’ story, written from a ‘pracademic’ perspective, published by West Academic in 2017: “Human Trafficking: A System-Wide Public Safety and Community Approach.”
The book was highlighted in a workshop at the 2018 International Chiefs of Police Conference in Orlando, and all royalties from this book go to the Valencia College Foundation for human trafficking training and education at SPS. Jeff is currently expanding this book by working with other human trafficking leaders to add sections on corrections, the hospitality sector and the media.
While first writing and editing the book, Jeff discovered Florida Statute 787.06, the state’s human trafficking law that delineates protection and access of services for victims and calls for training across disciplines. Therefore, he embarked on a strategy for training and opened the doors of the SPS to fight trafficking.
Over the years, SPS has hosted workshops and joint forums for expanded training and education for our region. Each December, SPS hosts the Annual Central Florida Anti-human Trafficking Joint Forum, in partnership with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigations, and the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force.
SPS also hosted the Sex Trafficking in Florida Schools workshop in 2017, the Human Trafficking Awareness for First Responders and Safety Officers workshop in 2018, and the 14th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Days and Film Festival on Thursday, January 27, and Friday, January 28, 2022.
SPS now offers specific training for the investigation of human trafficking, including developing and launching a course, Advanced Investigative Techniques of Human Trafficking Offenses, which was created by one of our state’s best human trafficking investigators, FDLE Special Agent Supervisor Jose Ramirez. This course is offered twice each year to numerous law enforcement investigators.
In July 2021, a human trafficking curriculum was added to Valencia’s Criminal Justice Institute’s Law Enforcement Academy. Now, each year, more than 200 police recruits receive a comprehensive lesson on human trafficking, which includes the scope of the problem of human trafficking, trafficking laws, victims, trafficking of children, recognizing and responding to trafficking, and working with the community to prevent trafficking.
In November 2021, SPS assigned the directors of Valencia’s Criminal Justice and Fire Rescue Institutes to the Tri-County Alliance on Human Trafficking to build relationships and look for training opportunities for the first responders and correctional personnel we serve. SPS is also a member of the Creating a Resilient Community Network (CRC) in Central Florida — in which Jeff serves as the public safety lead — to learn about Adverse Childhood Experiences and Resiliency to make stronger connections to human trafficking victimization.
In 2014, under the leadership of retired College President Sandy Shugart and retired Orlando Police Department Officer Kim Brewster, Valencia implemented a program to offer tuition assistance to cover the cost of college for victims of human trafficking. To date, the College has assisted 26 victims, and this spring, nine victims are enrolled in classes.
Jeff has shared the College’s strategy against human trafficking as a chapter in his book, “Higher Education Leadership Strategy in the Public Affairs Triumvirate, College and Community Engagement.”
Next on Jeff’s list in this fight is the second edition of the human trafficking book. With a big goal to make it the “go to” human trafficking book on the market