The Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act (H.R. 2480), legislation offered by Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler to combat the spread of human trafficking, passed the House Judiciary Committee today. Committee approval of HR 2480 moves the bill closer to full consideration on the House floor in July.
“Sex trafficking crimes are a rising epidemic in America, but our federal grant system has not kept pace with the seriousness of this issue. We must empower our police in fighting this nationwide epidemic. When the law enforcement community says there is an opportunity to rescue sex slavery victims — which sadly includes children — then there is no excuse for ignoring it. This legislation provides us an opportunity to rescue countless lives from the sex trafficking industry and move one step closer to ending this evil forever,” said Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, who has been a staunch advocate of increasing tools for law enforcement to combat trafficking. Last month Hartzler met at the White House with the Department of Justice, State Department officials, and Ivanka Trump, who is assisting the president on this issue, to discuss ways to more aggressively combat the rising tide of sex trafficking crimes both in the United States and abroad.
Specifically HR 2480 expands the ability of the Department of Justice’s Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants Program (Byrne JAG) to enable law enforcement agencies to compete for federal funding, specifically to develop and carry out programs that fight sex trafficking demand. Demand reduction programs pose police officers as women engaged in street-level prostitution to capture buyers seeking to exploit these victims. The average support team consists of about six officers for each decoy. Police may also post decoy advertisements online, and set up reverse stings at a hotel or apartment. All of these strategies drain precious law enforcement budgets.
“Every life matters and has inherent worth, and we must do all we can to fight human trafficking. The Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act ensures that state and local law enforcement officials have access to additional tools needed to fight this heinous crime in their communities. I thank Congresswoman Hartzler for her work to fight human trafficking and look forward to her bill being voted on by the House of Representatives in the coming weeks,” said Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
· More than 20 million people are affected by trafficking each year.
· The International Labour Organization reports that three out of every 1,000 people are "trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived."
· Missouri ranks 17th in cases reported in 2016.
· It’s estimated that there are over 20 million people enslaved around the world but that few of them are ever identified as human trafficking victims.
· In 2016, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received 26,727 calls, and 7,572 human trafficking case reported.