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May 29, 2015

The Show-Me State Shows Us How to Combat Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a complex, multi-faceted criminal enterprise. With earnings of $150 billion, modern day slavery is also an extremely profitable paradox, hiding its victims in plain sight while its perpetrators operate in the shadows. Traffickers cross jurisdictional boundaries, eluding prosecution, manipulating legitimate businesses, all the while exploiting those in need.

In response, law enforcement must adopt a multi-disciplinary approach and link partners from different perspectives on all levels of pursuit.  Which is why a recent resolution by the Missouri legislature calling for a human trafficking task force is so timely.

Passed unanimously on May 15th, the motion will create a unit consisting of “sitting Representatives, Senators, some members of non-governmental organizations, and a variety of other affiliated groups that would have input on the best way to combat the trafficking issue in Missouri,” said State Representative Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield). This entity will help raise awareness, recommend more effective legislative action, and perhaps most importantly, provide agencies and organizations with a central hub for data collection and sharing.   

A significant impediment to the efficacy of anti-trafficking efforts has been a lack of access to reliable data across different jurisdictional scales. Partly due to an inability to coordinate tracking data, statistical resources also have failed to harmonize due to differing standards of reporting. Missouri's new effort will help avoid some of these pitfalls, providing a more complete picture of the human trafficking landscape across the state. Missouri’s efforts would be further enhanced if we could standardize reporting across all states. This would help us know where to better target resources. 

Ranked first tier by Polaris' analysis of human trafficking laws, Missouri has been among the states most attuned to the challenge of combating modern day slavery. With this latest effort, state lawmakers have shown that even commended efforts must continue to be improved on in order to keep pace with a changing crime.