National Underground RR Freedom Center
by Paul Bernish
Human trafficking is a growing phenomenon at home and abroad, but the statistics of documented trafficking cases don’t always reflect what’s happening in the real world.
The Seattle (Washington) Post-Intelligencer recently addressed this situation based on incidents in the State of Washington. Lack of incidents, that is. The newspaper reported that since Washington passed an anti-human trafficking law five years ago, only one charge has been filed (and it is pending). Why?
The answer, as detailed in the article , has much to do with the lack of training for law enforcement personnel to recognize human trafficking situations. Training police officers, Sheriff’s deputies, state highway patrolmen and other in law enforcement to understand the signs of possible human trafficking should be an urgent priority in the United States.
The Freedom Center’s Partnership for Human Freedom is addressing the issue head-on. Since January, we have been involved in human trafficking training of more than 700 law enforcement personnel, medical and social service providers, attorneys, high school and university students, law and medical students and the general public. We’ve also played a role in drafting new law enforcement training on trafficking for the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy (OPOTA). And we’ve combined resources with the Cincinnati Rescue & Restore Coalition, the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys Office to provide still more training for local law enforcement agencies.
This is far from glamorous, headline-catching work. But to put a dent in human trafficking, a first and crucial first step is understanding what the problem is, and how to recognize it for what it is: a ghastly form of modern-day slavery.