Governor John Kasich has strengthened efforts to report and combat Human Trafficking in Ohio through a key initiative launched early this year. The Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force was formed to marshal state agency resources to coordinate efforts in identifying and rescuing victims, create a coordinated law enforcement system to investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes, and to provide the services and treatment necessary for victims to regain control of their lives.
Eleven state agencies are members of the task force and have identified service and training gaps, as well as made recommendations to remedy those gaps.
An active participant in the Task Force efforts, DODD strongly supports these recommendations, and hosted a training this month for professionals within the statewide developmental disabilities service system who, at the grassroots level, can be key players in recognizing and combating human trafficking.
The training, “Combating Human Trafficking for Investigation Agents and Service and Support Administrators,” included an overview of what trafficking is, why it is a growing issue, how trafficking is defined under state and federal laws, and various reporting requirements. Participants reviewed a model of how trafficking occurs, as well as learned about cases involving victims with developmental disabilities including a discussion of vulnerabilities. The training curriculum also included specific signs and other not-so-obvious indicators of human trafficking, screening tools, and resources available.
Major Unusual Incident Investigation (MUI) Unit Deputy Director Scott Phillips commented,
Human trafficking is a concern that impacts all Ohioans. Individuals with developmental disabilities are at particular risk as traffickers are known to prey on vulnerable populations. This training day clearly defined human trafficking, and highlighted what to look for and who to contact with any concerns. Being proactive and preparing people to address trafficking issues will go a long way in maximizing our efforts to keep people safe.”
Phillips went on to note that a system-wide approach — with consistent information and available resources – will strengthen Ohio’s efforts to combat human trafficking and help individuals at-risk by working across agencies and communities.
For additional helpful information, see the Human Trafficking Information Toolkit.