Omaha Coalition on Human Trafficking
From the National Sheriff's Newletter - April 27, 2018
We have come a long way in enforcing laws and fighting crime. As a society, we are better informed and more aware of our world. Yet, the human trafficking industry is flourishing.
No matter how many of these vile criminals are taken down, more offenders spring up elsewhere. But law enforcement professionals haven’t given up.
They are evolving their practices and looking for more effective ways to combat crime. Recent partnerships with other agencies and industries play a significant role in their work.
Minnesota recently made news in this regard. The Minnesota Trucking Association will be partnering with Minnesota law enforcement officials to fight human trafficking, as truckers are a crucial resource to observe victims and spot traffickers while they are working. The official partnership, announced by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, marks a new era in fighting human traffickers.
Truckers will learn how to spot a possible trafficking victim, and will be trained to understand if a person is under the control of another or being coerced. They will have the right resources to report these crimes immediately and help save lives.
Reports show at least 173 reported cases of human trafficking in Minnesota in 2017 alone. The need for partnerships like this is imperative.
Elsewhere in the U.S., Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently announced a wide-ranging, new initiative last month to fight human traffickers.
The program will also include ways to identify, track and arrest sex offenders, and all sex-related crimes in the state. No one is exempt, not even legislators and state employees.
The initiative recommends $39 million in state funding, which will begin with the creation of a new unit to pursue these crimes. This program will also help tackle the enormous backlog of sexual assault kits that need testing and analysis.
The state has recently been rocked by sexual misconduct allegations against several state legislators, and the sexual assaults committed by Larry Nassar at Huntsville’s Karolyi Ranch. Abbott put the Texas Rangers’ Public Integrity Unit in charge of these particular investigations, and the Rangers will also fight additional sex crimes and human trafficking. Other state employees will also be trained preventing these crimes.
Human trafficking is not a new horror that we face. But the advent of the internet and social media has worsened the problem. Hundreds of vulnerable children who fall prey to traffickers need all the help they can get.
Per the Polaris Project, there were 8,524 reported cases of human trafficking in the United States in 2017. That horrifying report has spurred Congress to strengthen its commitment fight human trafficking.
Representatives, like Colorado’s Scott Tipton, have taken swift action to amend ambiguous laws and eliminate underlying loopholes that have allowed perpetrators to get away with heinous deeds.
Along with identifying and shutting down websites, law enforcement officials need advanced training to recognize and prevent these crimes. Two pieces of legislation have been passed in this regard to fund training programs and equip police with advanced technologies. They can learn and develop best practices for preventing sex crimes and stay up to date with changing crime patterns.
Additionally, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the United Nations' aviation agency, is urging the global airline industry to fight crime. It seeks to offer mandatory training to combat human trafficking.
Cabin crews will be trained to identify and respond to trafficking, and empowered to act and alert law enforcement. With the right resources at their disposal, they can make a big difference, along with the other partnerships that have popped up in law enforcement and industry.