Human trafficking course added to police training for next year

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | May 12, 2014 4:10 AM

(Harrisburg) -- Human trafficking in Pennsylvania is getting more attention from politicians and law enforcement, and additional training requirements are starting next year.


A one hour voluntary course is available now, but in 2015, it will be extended to three hours and become part of the required training for all police officers.

Officers learn techniques to recognize human trafficking, intervene if possible, and how to conduct proper investigations.

"Local police have never been shown how to identify what could be human trafficking. Whether it's in the prostitution trade, whether it's in children, whether it's in workers," says Chris Braun with the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.

Braun says officers involved in human trafficking stings along with federal and state prosecutors help design the course.

"That takes some investigative technique. The training is not necessarily to look for illegal immigrants. We try to be very careful as to what we're investigating. The training is geared to look for human trafficking."

Braun says illegal immigrants may sometimes actually be part of a human trafficking ring, and victims themselves.

Pennsylvania is often described as pass-through state, meaning victims are often moved through the commonwealth.

Statistics on human trafficking are hard to come by, because of the nature of the crime, but the US State Department estimated about 12 million victims worldwide in a 2010 report.

York County has a task force specifically dedicated to helping victims and raising awareness, while advocacy groups in Lancaster and Berks counties also aim to draw attention to the issue.

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