Human trafficking is a problem across the nation that is becoming bigger everyday, even in our own state. Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey, and his office, are now taking action by teaching law enforcement intense training throughout the state on how to target and reduce the horrific crime.
On Tuesday, the Attorney General’s Office trained law enforcement at the Recreation Center in Bluefield, with hopes that law enforcement will be able to identify skeptical activity and tackle the growing crime here in West Virginia.
“In 2016 there were 232 calls that went to the National Human Trafficking hotline out of the state of West Virginia. When you compare that to Virginia, which had I believe, 3,500 calls or Ohio that had 5,300 calls, it’s clear that, statistically speaking our numbers were under reported” said, Robert Lesie, Senior Deputy for Attorney General’s Office.
The 2008 award-winning film, “Taken”, draws the picture of a seventeen-year-old girl who is kidnapped for human trafficking. However, that entertainment is all to real for some West Virginians. In an interview with Sgt. TM Divita of West Virginia State Police who is also teaching part of the class said, “West Virginia is a poor state, West Virginia drug addiction is through the roof and we have a lot of parents and families selling their children for drugs. So in the southern part of West Virginia it’s a really important thing for law enforcement officers to be able to recognize it.”
Now, many of you may be wondering, how can you spot human trafficking? Well, there are many different ways that you might not have been aware of.
Sgt. TM Divita added, “It could be a sexual assault that comes in, that we look a little further to realize that you know it’s not just the neighbor molesting the kids, the parents are selling their kids. We look at back page, we look at Facebook messenger so when these cases come in, we need to look a little deeper into actually what’s happening not just read it for face value.”
The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office will continue to travel the state for the next several months. They are hoping, that in a few months, every officer has the opportunity to take this training in their own area.