Runestad introduces bill to help fight human trafficking

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Jim Runestad recently introduced legislation that would help law enforcement fight the growing number of human trafficking cases in Michigan.

Senate Bill 337 would help better identify potential human trafficking abuse by clearly tracking repeat incidents of domestic violence.

“Human trafficking cases are not always easy to identify,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “My bill would revise the Standard Domestic Violence Incident Report Form to allow police to indicate whether they are also investigating for human trafficking — which would help law enforcement work together to make a difference for the most vulnerable.

“Human trafficking can involve either involuntary servitude or commercial sex trafficking, and some instances may look like domestic violence incidents at first. The victims are often moved from place to place, which keeps them vulnerable and prevents access to social services and the ability to establish relationships with local law enforcement. Including these additional details in the reporting form will help us track how officers are investigating for human trafficking as a component of domestic violence.”

While human trafficking is illegal under international, federal and state law, it is thought to be one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world. In Michigan alone, there were 1,504 cases of human trafficking logged from December 2007 through December 2018, based on contacts received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

“That number is probably only a fraction of the actual cases,” Runestad said. “This is a crime that is significantly underreported.”

If you are a victim of human trafficking or have identified someone you think may need help, please contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at (888) 3737-888.

SB 337 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

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