KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Monday marks the start of the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department's involvement in the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative.
This week, officers will offer pamphlets and information about human trafficking awareness, while also completing random commercial vehicle checks. Police will also make checks at truck stops, as some pamphlets being shared come from Truckers Against Trafficking, an organization that works to recognize and report human trafficking.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics released it's 2022 report on Human Trafficking, looking at data between 2011 and 2020. The main takeaway shows that in 2020, 2,198 people were sent to the U.S. Attorney's for human trafficking offenses. That's a 62% increase from 2011. Prosecutions and convictions, however, have made a steady incline since 2011, but convictions did take a slight dip between 2019 and the pandemic, 2020.
“Many think that this kind of thing happens somewhere else, to someone else, but we know it occurs everywhere and touches the lives of many right here in our own community,” Sergeant Grant Ruark said.
Looking at local numbers, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, in 2021 in Kansas, there were 85 cases identified with 138 victims. In that same year in Missouri, those numbers were higher at 240 cases with 327 victims.
Here are some signs the U.S. Department of State says to be aware of when it comes to human trafficking victims:
- Living with employer
- Poor living conditions
- Multiple people in cramped space
- Inability to speak to individual alone
- Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
- Employer is holding identity documents
- Signs of physical abuse
- Submissive or fearful
- Unpaid or paid very little
- Under 18 and in prostitution