- Experts in human trafficking prevention say do not intervene if you see an incident taking place.
- Instead, they say to report any trafficking activity to law enforcement.
- Watch the video to find out why this protocol is important and the correct numbers to call to reach these resources
Human trafficking: it's an issue I've been tracking in our community.
The last installment of this series focused on how to improve education about human trafficking.
Now, I'm looking into how to apply this education for good. I'm Maya Sargent in Northwest Tallahassee.
Law enforcement and experts in the field tell me who you should rely on to intervene with these cases and why it's important to follow their direction.
"As in domestic violence, in order to get out, there has to be a plan made," said
Wendy Strickland-Dawson with AngelWingz Family Crisis and Intervention Center Incorporated. She said this is key to successfully extracting someone from trafficking.
So what does this plan look like? Strickland-Dawson said the first step is not to intervene. "If you see someone in human trafficking, please don’t walk up to the person and snatch them out," said Strickland-Dawson.
During the coverage of this series, I heard the same cautions from Emily Mitchem with Refuge House. "What you don’t want to do is try to intervene with anything that you see, it’s just too dangerous," said Mitchem.
Strickland-Dawson said you should, "go to law enforcement first, that’s kind of our first line of defense." I visit Sergeant Shade McMillian with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. He showed me posters they have around town with contact information for the public if they see trafficking taking place.
I ask the Sergeant how they proceed once they receive these tips. "We look at all the evidence, we collaborate with other agencies, not to mention our Taskforce that we’er involved with, and we move forward with any kind of surveillance or any kind of investigative work after that," said McMillian.
He said they take a victim-centered approach to these cases. "If we can get these survivors outside of these situations that they’re being trafficked, that’s generally 90% of the success rate of these types of cases," said McMillian.
Strickland-Dawson said you should always rely on law enforcement. "You don’t know the cleverness of the trafficker and the system. It changes," said Strickland-Dawson.
This advice builds upon legislation and steps put in place by Leon County and the City to combat human trafficking. For more information on these, you can check out the previous story in this series.
The Leon County Sheriff’s Office recommends submitting tips to them via this information here at (855) 352-7233 or LCSO.HTTIPS@LEONCOUNTYFL.GOV or calling the National Human Trafficking hotline at (888) 373-7888. Next in this series, we’ll be looking at the prosecution process for these types of cases.