ASK YOUR TROOPER: Know the facts about human trafficking

By TROOPER KATHLEEN WICKER
Guest Columnist

A hot topic developing in our state is “human trafficking.” January was declared Human Trafficking Awareness month. A group of adults surveyed recently seemed surprised human trafficking is a problem in our state.

Most people automatically think of sex trafficking when the topic arises, but humans are also trafficked for labor purposes. Generally speaking, the law requires a human trafficking victim, whether for sexual, labor or service purposes, to complete the act due to some force, fraud or coercion imposed on them. Throughout the country, the following are the types of trafficking commonly seen: forced prostitution or minors involved in sexual exploitation or prostitution, domestic servitude, exotic dancing, agricultural workers, construction, landscaping, drug trafficking, forced begging, debt bondage, massage parlors, nail salons, and pornography. This is not an all-inclusive list, nor does inclusion on this list mean that someone is being trafficked.

The Department of Homeland Security states on their website “recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life.” A few of the indicators are: children who stop attending school; sudden or drastic changes in a person’s behavior; a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts; someone who is fearful, timid or submissive; someone who shows signs of having been denied food, water, sleep or medical care; someone living in unsuitable conditions; someone lacking personal possessions; someone looking to another person before responding to a question or appearing coached on what to say.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA of 2000, revised in 2003, 2008 and 2013) is the federal law addressing human trafficking. The Michigan human trafficking law took effect in August 2006 and is addressed in MCL 750.462(a)-(i). In Michigan, each county’s prosecutor and the Michigan Attorney General determine whether an individual case meets the requirements of the Michigan anti-human trafficking law.

The Michigan State Police participates with federal and local law enforcement agencies to combat human trafficking. While we are recovering victims in Michigan, there are many more not located. If you suspect someone is being trafficked, contact your local law enforcement office or central dispatch or call the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force Hotline at 1-888-3737-888. For more information, visit www.mhttf.org.

Trooper Wicker welcomes invitations to speak with local community groups in Wexford and Manistee Counties on a variety of safety and public interest topics. Contact information: Michigan State Police Cadillac Post at (231) 779-6040 for more information.

 

Trooper Kathleen Wicker will be answering your law-enforcement related questions in future “Ask A Trooper” columns. Please write, or email, your questions to her at: Michigan State Police, ATTN: Tpr. Wicker, 7711 S. US. 131 Cadillac, MI 49601 or email wickerk@michigan.gov.

 

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