Law enforcement officers train in how to identify human trafficking

Posted at 7:05 PM, Apr 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-08 21:05:40-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A young woman called 911 from a downtown Salt Lake City hotel last month, saying she had been kidnapped in New York City and sold for sex in cities across the country.

Police say she was the victim of human trafficking, a crime found in Utah not just because of demand, but also because of geography.

“All of its taking place from state to state from town to town and the one common denominator is the travel -- a vehicle an airplane a bus, something is always going to be involved to get them from point a to point b,” said Sgt. Cody Mitchell, Texas Ranger.

Texas rangers came to Utah Tuesday to teach local law enforcement officers how recognize potential human trafficking victims who don`t show obvious signs of abuse.

“There got to be a way for us to identify those individuals while they're in transit and once we identify them how do we deal with that, how do we recognize what we're really seeing and articulate that to the point where we can remove children from being exploited save them, and potentially save their lives,” said Capt. Tyler Kotter with Utah Department of Public Safety.

Often times, victims aren't found until police raid businesses tied to prostitution, drug dealing or break up gangs.

But if officers know what to look for, experts say victims can be rescued at a simple traffic stop.

“This training is designed to make patrol officers more focused in this area, better trained so they do it right, they do it legally,” said Maj. Brian Redd with Utah Department of Public Safety State Bureau of Investigation.