Human Trafficking Awareness Training–Why It’s Important for Law Enforcement

The illegal exploitation of a person, or human trafficking, is a crime that demands the collaboration of multiple agencies. Both federal and state agencies rely on local law enforcement to help them combat trafficking, making awareness training critical for officers. Here are some reasons why human trafficking awareness training needs to be a priority for law enforcement.

Police Officers May Not Know or Recognize the Signs of Human Trafficking Without It

“As the guardians of ensuring that the rights and freedoms of those living in the United States are protected, law enforcement plays a key role in the fight against human trafficking. Yet the Northeastern University and Urban Institute report indicates that local criminal justice officials may not be well-informed on the issue or possess the tools, resources, and information necessary to effectively identify and prosecute cases of human trafficking. They may be even generally uninformed about protecting the rights of the victims and ensuring that they are directed to appropriate service providers. Officers on routine patrol may happen upon a situation involving human trafficking, but because of a lack of awareness or training, they might not recognize the situation as a crime and, therefore, fail to make inquiries or take appropriate action to intervene.”

Police Chief Magazine

Human trafficking awareness is essential for law enforcement because, without it, officers may not know or recognize the signs of human trafficking. For example, an officer might respond to a call from concerned neighbors about domestic violence happening in the apartment next door, unaware they need to consider the possibility of it actually being a trafficking victim/captor scenario. Or a missing child might not be “lost” but instead sold by a family member to a trafficker in exchange for drug money. Officers need to know that not everything is as black and white as they were taught in the academy, and some situations warrant a closer look or further investigation.

human trafficking awareness training

These are some of the red flags, courtesy of texasattorneygeneral.gov, that officers should be on the lookout for, as they could be an indication of human trafficking:

  • Person seems overly fearful, submissive, tense, or paranoid.
  • Person is deferring to another person before giving information.
  • Person has physical injuries or branding such as name tattoos on face or chest, tattoos about money and sex, or pimp phrases.
  • Clothing is inappropriately sexual or inappropriate for weather.
  • Minor is unaccompanied at night or falters in giving an explanation of who they are with and what they are doing.
  • Identification documents are held by another.
  • Person works long or excessive hours or is always available “on demand.”
  • Overly sexual for age or situation.
  • Multiple phones or social media accounts.
  • Signs of unusual wealth without explanation—new jewelry, shoes, phones without any known form of income.
  • Person lives in a “massage” business or is not free to come and go.

With the Proper Training, Officers Can Take Down Traffickers Safely and Effectively

Human trafficking awareness training is vital for law enforcement because it helps them be better prepared when they get involved in trafficking situations and teaches them how to take down traffickers in a safe and effective manner. Some agencies might need to take an offensive approach to trafficking and do sting operations. If this is the case, officers need to be trained in the best tactics and approaches so that after the op is over, they are the ones coming out on top.

To report suspected human trafficking to Federal law enforcement, call 1-866-347-2423. If you are a supplier or manufacturer and would like to donate training or materials to CRG’s human trafficking awareness training or you are a law enforcement agency in need of additional training for your officers, give us a call at (205) 547-0050.