Letter to the editor: Police must continue proactive approach to human trafficking

By WES REVELS

Candidate for Monroe County Sheriff

Human trafficking is one the more important issues in the forefront of the minds of law enforcement agencies around the country. While I don’t want to sensationalize the frequency of these incidents, they are something that happen with regularity across the nation.

Fortunately, to this point, Wisconsin has largely avoided the incidence of large-scale trafficking operations. However prevalent human trafficking may be in Wisconsin, we don’t want to sit by and wait until this becomes a more serious issue. Because these are some of the most heinous crimes someone can perpetrate, law enforcement agencies and legislators in our state have taken a proactive approach to this issue. We have strong human trafficking legislation, and there is a solid working relationship between local law enforcement agencies and the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

As sheriff of Monroe County, I would encourage our deputies to maintain this proactive approach in their daily activities and would provide them with the resources and training they need to identify human trafficking. The clandestine nature of these crimes also requires a strong relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve. More often than not, it is citizens that first encounter these situations, so we need to encourage them to come forward.

We also need to be more understanding and open so victims of these and other crimes feel safe coming forward. Accessibility and compassion are important facets of law enforcement, and I will make having a positive relationship with the community a priority. This helps make law enforcement more approachable to the public and makes citizens more comfortable and willing to come forward when they have concerns. This is true not only in human trafficking complaints, but also in any situation, and allows us to provide a better service to the county.

The majority of victims of these crimes tend to come from particularly low-income backgrounds, urban areas or are migrants or other foreign-national victims of international trafficking. Despite this, victims can include men, women and children of any race, sexual orientation, economic class, or ethnic background.

If you have a legitimate belief that you have information regarding an incident of human trafficking, please contact the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department at (608) 269-2117 or the Wisconsin Department of Justice Human Trafficking tip line at (888) 373-7888.

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