KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Law enforcement agencies have stepped up their training to uncover human trafficking and predators.
Police departments, sheriff’s offices and advocate groups across Kansas and Missouri were at the Police training academy Monday, for a lesson in spotting human trafficking.
“What we’re teaching, is that team approach,” Co-Founder of Human Trafficking Training Center, Dan Nash said.
He spent 27 years with the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Now, he teaches officers, detectives and even medical staff about human trafficking.
Human trafficking is one person controlling another by means of force, fraud or coercion to do some type of work or sex act.
“We are here to help them; we can make a difference,” KCPD Deputy, Robert Shorrock said. “Getting them to reach out to us is probably the most challenging thing that 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 makings of human trafficking when they see it?
“You can find a trafficking victim anywhere,” Nash said.
He said to take notice of vulnerability or if something just doesn’t seem right.
Traffickers will often claim to be a boyfriend or husband and the biggest tell, control.
“They’re maybe not allowed to answer questions, or they’re not 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 Center, travels the country to put an end to it.
Co-founder Alison Phillips said they turn results.
“It’s literally within days an officer is seeing things that they had not seen before,” Phillips said. In November, seven days after training, a Kansas City police officer was on a call at a convenience store.
“He was introducing her around, to some bad people, that wanted her to have sex with men for money,” Phillips said. “She didn’t want to do it.”
The officer spotted the signs and got the survivor to “Relentless Pursuit Outreach and Recovery.”
“Somedays they’ll come in and be happy, telling funny stories and talking about what they did,” Gibson said. “They’ll come in the next day, literally beat up, black eyes, scuffed up, saying they got raped by this guy this many times.”
Gibson said they’ve helped more than 350 women in 5,000+ visits in the last year.
“No one group of people is going to solve this problem. You can’t arrest your way out of it, you can’t hug yourself out of it,” Gibson said. “We all have to work together.”
Human Trafficking Training runs on private donations.
Gibson’s group sponsored Monday’s event. He believes this training puts more survivors in safe spots.
📲 Download the FOX4 News app to stay updated on the go.
📧 Sign up for FOX4 email alerts to have breaking news sent to your inbox.
💻 Find today’s top stories on fox4kc.com for Kansas City and all of Kansas and Missouri.