Organizations host human trafficking training for law enforcement agencies
CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, Ark- Law enforcement agencies from across the state are in Jonesboro as they get a little help handling human trafficking cases here in Arkansas.
Over 50 law enforcement agencies from across Arkansas are participating in the Human Trafficking Training Center program.
The two-day event works to educate first responders on the signs of the 150 billion dollar a year industry.
“In order to fight human trafficking in our state, we got to collaborate,” said Megan Mitchell Brown, founder of Hope Found of Northeast Arkansas, a human trafficking resource nonprofit. “We all have to be on the same page when responding to human trafficking. They’re some of the first people that may come in contact with a victim of human trafficking, so it’s really important that they understand what that looks like.”
Hope Found, the Arkansas State Police, and the Arkansas Children's Advocacy Center host the two-day seminar at Central Baptist Church.
It is open for law enforcement, first responders, and medical personnel to attend.
Alison Phillips and Dan Nash, co-founders of the center, say the free training is vital to law enforcement as departments face budget cuts.
“You don’t just send a police officer out to look for a drunk driver until you train them properly, right? They have to know what a drunk driver looks like. They have to know how to talk to a drunk driver. But yet, we send police officers out there all the time without any human trafficking training. And we expect them to locate victims and arrest traffickers,” said co-founder Dan Nash. “We’re really not being fair to our law enforcement by not offering them training.”
Attendees learned human trafficking signs, the culture surrounding it, how to interview a survivor and trafficker, what evidence to look for, and more.
“We’re teaching them skills that they can then leave here with and actually start to use right away. Within a week or two weeks or seven days,” Nash said when talking about officers putting their skills to use. “The quickest we ever had was within twenty-four hours where a victim was ultimately identified and rescued, and a trafficker was arrested.”
White County Sheriff's detective Heather Meadows says she’ll be taking the education from the human trafficking training back to the department.
“The training can provide us with not only the resources available to them,” Meadows said. “But also networking because each one has an individual story that may be effective. Or have something different to them happen along the same lines.”