The Young Woman Who Created A New Way to Bust Sex Trafficking Rings

By Cale Weissman on on—
“Last year Emily Kennedy found herself sitting at an LAPD precinct. The 25-year-old wasn’t in trouble—she was helping with a sting.

A group of girls sat in the office waiting to be questioned. Kennedy watched as a detective casually asked one a series of questions. It was clear this wasn’t an interrogation; both the detective and the girl were just sitting and waiting. “Are you in high school?” the detective asked. “What’s your favorite class? Do you like sports?” The girl answered, clearly scared and aware of the power asymmetry.

Kennedy watched from a desk as this transpired. This operation was working to find and rescue underage prostitutes, and the detective sitting there was trying to learn the truth about this girl’s conditions.

The Los Angeles Police Department had spent months trying to needle its way into the city’s prostitution rings, keeping track of potential suspects and victims using a piece of analytic software. Kennedy had developed this software. Kennedy was at the LAPD precinct because of her job; she helps protect victims of sex trafficking by writing software.

Traffic Jam, as her program is called, helps authorities track prostitution rings by using publicly available data. The project started when Kennedy was an undergrad at Carnegie Mellon University. Since graduation, the operation transformed into an entire company — Marinus Analytics — of which Kennedy is the founder and CEO.”

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