As the seventh-ranked state in the country for human trafficking, Michigan counties are finding unique ways to forge partnerships with non-government stakeholders to combat the problem.
According to a National Association of Counties article, counties in Michigan are taking a cross-divisional approach to combat human trafficking in the state. Currently, the state is ranked seventh for highest incidence rates in the country by the National Human Trafficking Hotline. California, Florida, and Texas rank in the top three states for total number of identified cases. With a tall task, local leaders have taken action and non-governmental stakeholders are noticing. Sharman Davenport, CEO of the victims’ services organization Turning Point comments:
“The county is really trying to understand all of the resources it has that can be provided for human trafficking, so the goal is to have most of us at the table,” Davenport said.
Genesee County and others have established county-specific Human Trafficking Task Forces to bring together leaders in the movement in order to eliminate the practice. In Macomb County, there is the Anti-Trafficking Task Force. These groups are comprised of local non-profits and educational partners as well as county governmental departments including the sheriff’s office, juvenile justice center, and health department. The goal of the task force is to provide preventative education on human trafficking and training throughout the county.
One of the major outcomes of the effort is educational integration into county programs. As an example, Macomb County Community College created a human trafficking course to help funnel recent graduates into the county workforce with specialized knowledge. Students who are working toward jobs in law enforcement, EMS, and the fire department can receive training to recognize trafficking before beginning active duty and on-the-job training.
Statistics on the status of human trafficking in Maryland are also available through the hotline. Maryland ranks in the top 20 based on current models, many of which reflect the greater incidence levels occurring around higher-density areas and locations with a lot of mobility, such as major highways and airports. The Safe Harbor law that failed to pass in the Maryland 2022 legislative session made it through in 2023 and will become law on July 1.
House Bill 297, prohibits authorities from arresting and charging child victims of sex trafficking or human trafficking for certain crimes committed as a result of trafficking, such as trespassing, misdemeanor theft, or prostitution. Additionally, it, requires that law enforcement tell local child welfare agencies if a youth is suspected of being trafficked and that officers release the minor to parents, guardians, or custodians or to the local child welfare agency if there is reason to think that the minor in endangered by parents or guardians. According to a recent article in The Washington Post, “Maryland was one of 37 to receive an “F” grade in 2022 from the advocacy group Shared Hope International for its statutes related to and affecting the sex trafficking of children and youths.”