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Advocacy group presents award to forensic examiner

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Hollie Strand

Journey Church Pastor James Moore, left, hands DCI Forensic Examiner Hollie Strand the 2022 Freedom Fighter Award at the Courtyard by Marriott in Box Elder during a fundraising event for Freedom’s Journey, a human trafficking survivor’s support organization.

DCI Forensic Examiner Hollie Strand has earned the Freedom Fighter Award on Aug. 27 for her work combating human trafficking by the Rapid City advocacy group Freedom’s Journey.

“Hollie’s dedication, persistence and attention to detail helps build cases that lead to the successful prosecutions that help make our communities safer,” said South Dakota Attorney General Mark Vargo, who attended the award ceremony at a fundraising dinner for Freedom’s Journey, a Rapid City nonprofit that fights human trafficking. “She is well deserving of this recognition.”

Strand has worked in law enforcement for more than 24 years. Her career includes a stint as chief of police in Martin. A Rapid City native, Strand serves as part of the DCI's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. She is based in the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and handles cases for the Rapid City Police Department, the sheriff’s office as well as DCI.

“This is a great honor to be recognized by Freedom’s Journey,” said Strand, who tipped her hat to colleagues who share her work sifting through digital evidence.

She pointed out that law enforcement alone cannot win the fight against human trafficking. It also takes organizations like Freedom’s Journey that work with survivors.

“We make the ripple, the advocates make the wave,” Strand said.

Freedom’s Journey’s mission is to support survivors of all forms of human trafficking navigate the journey from slavery to freedom through relationships and collaboration, and to combat human trafficking through education, awareness, and legislation. Founded in 2018 by Tess Franzen, the organization grew out of her work spearheading the 2014 formation of South Dakota's West River Human Trafficking Task Force.

“Hollie Strand has been a tireless fighter against human trafficking and advocate for survivors and is well deserving of our 2022 Freedom Fighter Award,” Franzen said. “She is a hero and we are blessed to have heron our side. She truly goes, as our award states, above and beyond in combating human trafficking.”

— Contact Shalom Baer Gee at sgee@rapidcityjournal.com — 

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