Structural Responses to Gendered Social Problems: Police Agency Adaptations to Human Trafficking

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The identification and investigation of human trafficking cases has lagged behind what prevalence estimates of the scope of the crime have suggested. Previous research has identified the importance of formalized responses to human trafficking for the successful identification of these cases, but little is known about the factors predicting the creation of specialized human trafficking units. The current study uses both primary and secondary data and a theoretical framework informed by structural contingency and representative bureaucracy to identify predictors of specialized human trafficking units in large municipal police departments in the United States. Penalized maximum likelihood estimation revealed only agency size and social disorganization were significant predictors of these specialized units. Directions for future research are included.