Law enforcement shift response to human trafficking

(WISH Photo/Brett Bensley)
(WISH Photo/Brett Bensley)

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Human trafficking and prostitution are not new crimes, but Lafayette police use 21st century technology to help fight the crimes as more online ads for prostitution pop up.

“Through different techniques we use with the internet, we are then led to the place where it’s happening,” LPD Officer Dan Long said. “That has most often led us back to the hotel areas.”

Long said most of the prostitution and human trafficking is focused in the State Road 26 area near several hotels. He said since pinpointing the area of the problem, the department has been able to shift its focus to prostitution and human trafficking.

“I would say over the past year, or year and a half, we have made it more of a priority than we had before that,” Long said

Although police are looking for prostitutes working independently, Officer Long said their main focus is finding victims of human trafficking. Sometimes when they’re looking for the victims, they’ll find the offenders.

“A lot of those cases you might be aware of are some of those cases where we’re out looking for human trafficking, and through that process we encountered someone working as a prostitute,” Long said.

The Lafayette Post of the Indiana State Police is also trying to find victims of human trafficking, especially those under 18. Sgt. Kim Riley said next week the post will be trained by the Texas Department of Public Safety on how to spot if a child is not with their rightful guardian.

“This is going to teach us to even look even further and look a little deeper into what type of questions to ask, the locations they are heading to or coming from, do the stories of the children match the stories of the children in the car,” Riley said.

The techniques are already being used by troopers in Texas. They have helped them rescue more than 80 children from the hands of human traffickers.

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