Omaha Coalition on Human Trafficking
All of Fremont's Hotels and Motels are Trained on Signs of Human Trafficking!
(Article Excerpt from Fremont NE Tribune)
Mary Narans keeps a large pile of newspaper clippings highlighting human trafficking. Narans, a volunteer for the Coalition on Human Trafficking, said they are a useful tool when she trains people about the atrocities of modern-day slavery; but more than anything, the clippings featuring mugshots of charged criminals are a constant reminder that sometimes, the bad guys do pay for what they have done.
During a Friday interview with the Tribune, Narans, and Linda Spagnotti, also a volunteer for the Coalition, spoke at length about the uphill battle of fighting human trafficking. This trafficking is something that often times hides in the dark. It’s so awful, people have trouble coming to terms with the fact that it’s happening around them.
Every year, more than 250,000 people are trafficked in United States for the purposes of sexual exploitation, information released by the Coalition shows. In the Omaha area alone, from fall 2015 to fall 2016, 2,200 people were sexually exploited through trafficking. In fact, human trafficking is the second-fastest growing criminal enterprise second only to drug trafficking.
It’s a $150 billion dollar industry. That’s right, billion. And roughly half of all human trafficking victims are children. The numbers are shocking, and what’s even more shocking is that not only is this happening in Nebraska, it’s happening right in our own back yards.
Where education is most important, Spagnotti said, is within hotels and motels, where approximately 70 to 80 percent of human trafficking nationwide occurs. Since 2015, Spagnotti has helped with a Coalition pilot program aiming to teach Omaha area hotels and motels the signs to look for in regard to trafficking.
Staff at 107 greater-Omaha area hotels and motels have received extensive training. A portion of this number is comprised of Fremont establishments. And while on its face that isn’t a shocking fact, what is amazing is that Fremont was the first city in the State of Nebraska to have 100 percent of its hotels and motels receive formal human trafficking training.
Collaboration and teamwork has played a huge role in educating people in Omaha, Fremont and all across the state. And while so much work has been put into education, the people fighting on the front lines are just getting warmed up.
The public plays a vital role in alerting law enforcement about potentially foul business. If people see a situation involving a child and an adult that seems out of place, or if their gut tells them something is wrong, they can reach out immediately. Perhaps it is innocent, but if it isn’t, that call can rescue somebody who is unable to help himself of herself. Spagnotti reminds us, “Once you know it’s happening, you can’t un-know that, you can’t un-hear the information you’ve learned, you can’t let these people be forgotten.”
Plaques Presented to Hotel Managers
Recently several hotel managers in Omaha received plaques for their hotels verifying that their staff has been educated on signs that indicate sex trafficking may be happening in their hotels. 80% of sex trafficking occurs in hotels and motels. Thus the importance of knowing the signs. 90 facilities in the Omaha area have been trained with more scheduled. For more information check the website of the Omaha Human Trafficking Coalition - www.notrafficking.org.