#minorsextrafficking | Freedom Fighter: Hollie Strand given award for work in combatting human trafficking in South Dakota

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Hollie Strand, Forensic Examiner for the Internet Crimes Against Children division of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Rapid City Police Department, and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, recently won the Freedom Fighter award from Freedom’s Journey.

Hollie started her career in law enforcement in her early 20s, serving in a variety of different roles. She worked in counseling services with an inpatient sex offender program at a maximum security prison in Nebraska, and worked in outpatient sex offender treatment in Las Vegas. Hollie eventually made her way back to South Dakota when she was selected as Police Chief for the Martin Police Department, where she worked for two years.

“Former Police Chief Carl Jegeris had called and asked about a position working with working as a forensic interviewer, and… I had a list of things that I would never do,” Strand says. “I’d never get married, never have kids, never live in Rapid City, never own a house…and then I just felt like God kept on tapping on the shoulder saying I have to apply for that job.”

Hollie was hired for the forensic examiner role, and after eight years, she moved to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, where her backgrounds in technology and psychology collided.

I love technology. I love working on electronics, and I told people all the time, if I ever left the Children’s Home Child Advocacy Center, it would be for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. That would be kind of my my niche of electronics and working against child abuse, and a position was created and I’ve been there for almost seven years.”

On a daily basis, Hollie sifts through digital content involved in many different crimes, since children may be abused by adults that are involved in other criminal activity.

Some parts of it are just simply taking apart computers, pulling hard drives, solid state drives, creating forensic images, some of them are doing data extractions on mobile devices, such as phones or tablets…some of the devices we get are for homicides or other major cases.”

Hollie says the job can be trying at times, but her hope is to be a part of helping child victims achieve justice and recovery.

I always thought of, when I looked at the kids, of…Genesis 50:20. ‘You intended to harm me, but God meant it for good, for what’s being done now, the saving of many lives.’ So I’ve met kids that have gone through sexual abuse, gone through horrible things, and I’ve met them down the road where they’re like, ‘I’m going to be a counselor, I’m going to be a prosecutor. I want to be in law enforcement.’ So to see them put that purpose to the pain and to see them come full circle, being able to sit in a sentencing in which their victim impact letters are read and that their statements are heard, not just by the judge, but heard by everybody in the courtroom…it’s pretty powerful to see that whole cycle of abuse come to a place where they’re able to do something about it.”

Freedom’s Journey, a nonprofit Christian ministry, dedicates their efforts to helping victims and survivors of human trafficking, awarded Hollie with their prestigious Freedom Fighter award for her work in uncovering and processing the evidence of so many human trafficking cases.

“It’s organizations like Freedom’s Journey that really puts the spotlight, and they’re there in the middle of the night when we need them to to help us address the problem,” Strand adds. 

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