State attorney general making changes on how human trafficking is reported in Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Attorney General’s Office is changing how human trafficking is reported in Missouri to help increase response time and aid cross-jurisdictional cooperation, removing barriers to reporting human trafficking.

Instead of using the Missouri-specific hotline, the AG’s Office instead will be using the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and is urging people in Missouri to also use the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Calls made to the Missouri-specific hotline will redirect to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

The AG’s Office says utilizing the national hotline will allow for more coordination between local, state, and federal law enforcement across jurisdictions, which is crucial as most human trafficking cases cross multiple jurisdictions. Additionally, this change will increase response time by law enforcement. The number for the National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-888-373-7888 and online at humantraffickinghotline.org.

“Combating human trafficking is an integral duty of the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, and it’s a duty that we take seriously,” said Attorney General Eric Schmitt. “Utilizing the National Human Trafficking Hotline is a crucial step to removing barriers to reporting, increasing response time, and allowing for more cross-jurisdictional cooperation, and it’s already working to aid potential victims of human trafficking.”

The AG said since implementing this change, there are already two positive stories that are a direct result of the switch to the National Human Trafficking Hotline:

According to the AG’s Office, this past spring, in the early morning hours, a public transportation worker noticed something was wrong with a female passenger. They recognized several signs that indicated that the female passenger was potentially a victim of human trafficking. Because that worker was familiar with the signs of trafficking, he immediately called in a tip to the National Human Trafficking Hotline that was referred to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. A responding trooper in turn contacted a victim advocate. By the time the female passenger got off, the responding trooper and victim advocate were there to assist her, and this potential victim got the help she needed.

The AG’s Office said recently a call came into the National Human Trafficking Hotline regarding a potential trafficking situation involving two females at a hotel. The NHTH reached out to the lead of the statewide task force’s law enforcement human trafficking operations who in turn coordinated with the local police department finding one available officer and two uniformed troopers to respond to the hotel.

“Our state wide coordination efforts resulted in a very efficient response time; from the time that the caller initiated the report with the NHTH to the time the three officers knocked on the hotel door was 29 minutes,” the AG’s Office said in a news release Wednesday.

The AG’s Office said these types of stories wouldn’t be possible without tips being reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline and the important work of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, other law enforcement agencies, victim advocates, and members of the Missouri Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force.

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