A State Trooper in Arizona rescued a 16 year old girl from sex trafficking because he received valuable extra training. Without that training, he may not have recognized all the signs and she may still be in sex trafficking today.
“On January 11, 2017, at about 7:20 a.m., an Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) trooper conducted a traffic stop near Kingman, Arizona. In the vehicle was an adult male and female and a 16-year-old girl. The trooper discovered that the girl was a runaway from California and had been missing since November 25, 2016. The trooper noticed indicators of possible sex trafficking, which he learned about from taking an IPC class.
The trooper requested assistance from an AZDPS detective. During the investigation, it was determined the child was transported from California, trafficked in Arizona and was being taken to Las Vegas to be trafficked.”
The IPC Class referred to stands for Interdiction for the Protection of Children and was developed in Texas in conjunction with the FBI. The need for this training was recognized in 2007 during conversations between representatives from TXDPS’ Education, Training, and Research Division (ETR) and Texas Missing Persons Clearinghouse (TMPC) who envisioned the need for a new course to teach troopers how to observe suspicious behaviors associated with missing children and child abduction offenses. While TXDPS troopers were well-trained and highly proficient in making observations of suspicious behaviors leading to arrests and successful interdictions of illicit drugs, weapons, and currency, they lacked training and experience in working child victimization cases. (source)
After the first pilot course was administered many individuals expressed that they did not know the magnitude, multiplicity, and degree of child endangerments. Several acknowledged that they had encountered suspicious adults and children during traffic stops and felt something was amiss, but could not fully identify the problem. Regrettably, they released the adults and children. “When I was a trooper, I became really good at looking for clues when it came to drugs, but I didn’t see the signs of at-risk kids. As I look back, there were probably several times that a kid was in trouble, and I didn’t do anything. My gut told me there was something wrong, but I didn’t get it.”
This is in NO way to say that police and first repsonders aren’t doing their job well. They are! But, until recently, they haven’t had specific training to see and determine if anything is going on underneath the surface.
Girls (and boys) who are being trafficked are being beaten, tortured both physically and mentally, threatened and drugged so they will stay submissive to their captors and pimps. This is a multi-billion dollar business, and pimps are very careful to not lose anyone who is making them money. Even if a police officer is right in front of their face, these children are too scared or drugged to speak up and cry out for help.
So these first responders have to know what to look for, what questions to ask, what to listen for, etc. And they are now being trained for all of that! This training will save lives and put criminals in jail.
And it’s not just first responders. One of the many places girls are prostituted are at truck stops. Did you know there is actually online training now that truck drivers can take so they can spot and report human trafficking?? Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) provides many online resources.
And where do girls often meet up with “johns”? In hotels. Hotel staff are also now getting training to watch for the signs of prostitution and sex trafficking. Everyone from the front desk employees to cleaning staff can spot things that just aren’t right, and do something about it.
But there’s always room for more….more training, more awareness, more arrests and more rescues!