Finding justice for child victims and their families
Corporal Randy Allen of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) is passionate about helping the youngest and most vulnerable crime victims. Allen has been with DCSO for 15 years. He spent the last seven years in the Major Crimes Division and the last three specifically with a Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Unit joint task force.
The task force brings many law enforcement entities together, including Colorado State Patrol, Arapahoe County Sheriff Office, Denver Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Their united objective is to identify and recover juvenile victims of human trafficking all over the country. Human trafficking and especially child exploitation “is a violation that flies so far under the radar, it happens in every area of the United States,” Allen explained.
The cases are long in duration and elaborate and difficult to work; it takes a small village of task force and community members operating together to identify and rescue individuals caught in trafficking. Violators are often “very smart, well versed and know how to hide in plain sight,” Allen explained. Help and cooperation from the victim is critical to identify perpetrators. Solving cases of human trafficking involves many long hours combing through internet websites, cell phone records and historical data.
Allen said there can be great difficulty building rapport with victims, many of whom are children. These children have been repeatedly let down by the adults who they reached out to for help, so trusting law enforcement after betrayal from family and friends is hard.
Additionally, many children who are victims of human trafficking have a form of Stockholm Syndrome. “They have been completely brainwashed by their trafficker and believe that the trafficker is looking out for their best interests,” Allen said. It can be tricky to work with some victims because they are very hesitant to trust anyone.
Despite the challenges, Allen is driven to keep working cases and helping individuals. Witnessing positive change brings him a measure of fulfillment. “Recovering juvenile victims, building rapport with them and seeing them thrive despite the tragic hand that they had been previously dealt, is the best part of working with the task force,” he said. “There is great satisfaction in receiving lengthy convictions for the traffickers that brought harm to these juvenile victims.”
When Allen is not passionately pursuing bad guys, he’s spending time with his son, family and friends. A Colorado native, Allen grew up in Lakewood. He has lived in Douglas County for two decades. A graduate of Lakewood High School, Allen studied business management at Metropolitan State College. He assumed business was the career route for him since his family had several businesses while he grew up.
A family friend – commander for Homeland Security at both the Oklahoma City bombings and the Atlanta Olympic bombings – encouraged Allen to look into law enforcement as a career. After researching public safety, Allen knew it was the career for him. After giving it a try, he knew he had to stay.
Since starting at the DCSO, Allen has worked his way up; starting in detentions, then patrol and into investigations where “he found his true calling,” he enthused.
Working the Special Victims Unit and Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Unit has solidified Allen’s dedication to “finding justice for child victims and their families who have been through unimaginable tragedies.”
For more information about human trafficking, visit https://humantraffickinghotline.org/en/statistics/colorado and https://www.fromsilencedtosaved.org/.
By Celeste McNeil; photo courtesy of Douglas County Sheriff’s Office