KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Law enforcement has stepped up training to uncover human trafficking and predators.
Police departments, sheriff’s offices and advocacy groups from Kansas and Missouri were at the police training academy on Monday, for a lesson in detecting human trafficking.
“What we teach is this team approach,” said Human Trafficking Training Center co-founder Dan Nash.
He spent 27 years with the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Now he teaches officers, detectives and even medical personnel about human trafficking.
Human trafficking is one person controlling another through force, fraud, or coercion to do some type of work or sex act.
“We are here to help them; we can make a difference,” said KCPD MP Robert Shorrock. “Getting them to contact us is probably the hardest thing I’ve seen in my years in the sex crimes unit.”
So how can these police officers, who are on the streets every day, recognize the fabric of human trafficking when they see it?
“You can find a trafficked person anywhere,” Nash said.
He said to take note of the vulnerability or if something doesn’t seem right.
The traffickers often pretend to be a boyfriend or husband and the biggest telltale, control.
“They may not be allowed to answer questions, or they may not be allowed to look at certain people, or maybe they don’t have proper identification.”
In Missouri, the number of cases increased by about 30%, from 179 in 2018 to 233 in 2019.
The organization, Human Trafficking Training Centertravels the country to put an end to it.
Co-founder Alison Phillips said they are delivering results.
“It’s literally within days that an officer sees things he hasn’t seen before,” Phillips said. In November, seven days after practice, a Kansas City police officer was on the phone at a convenience store.
“He was introducing her to bad people who wanted her to sleep with men for money,” Phillips said. “She didn’t want to do it.
The officer spotted the signs and asked the survivor to “Relentless awareness and recovery from the prosecution.
“One day they’ll come in and be happy, telling funny stories and talking about what they’ve done,” Gibson said. “They’ll come the next day, literally beaten, black-eyed, scratched, saying they’ve been raped by this guy so many times.”
Gibson said he has helped more than 350 women on more than 5,000 visits over the past year.
“No one group of people is going to solve this. You can’t get away with it, you can’t get away with it,” Gibson said. “We all have to work together.”
Human Trafficking Training operates through private donations.
Gibson’s band sponsored Monday’s event. He believes this training puts more survivors in safe places.
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