St Louis, MO (KFVS) - Missouri's new Attorney General is taking aim at Human Trafficking, and local leaders are supporting his effort.
We spoke with a prosecuting attorney and a police chief here in The Heartland, both said Hawley's plan is innovative.
"We need a new abolitionist movement to confront the networks of violence and oppression that constitutes human trafficking, and I am here today to announce that Missouri is going to help lead the way, Hawley said in a press conference April 3.
He laid out a four point plan of defense.
- Impose regulations that go after financial and business practices commonly used by traffickers.
- Create a Human Trafficking Enforcement team
- Create a Human Trafficking Task Force
- Provide training to law enforcement, first responders, and community members who may encounter victims.
"We know it happens, we know it goes on. You can go on Craigslist right now and see that it goes on, and so to have a task force that would help local law enforcement, prosecute, and really go after and target these things is a good thing," said Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver
Oliver says he doesn't see human trafficking often, but he hopes this initiative can bring more cases to light.
Poplar Bluff Police Chief Danny Whiteley stood with Hawley at his press conference - showing his support.
Whiteley said in a statement: "This is outside the box thinking by Attorney General Josh Hawley, and I believe this will make a huge difference in the fight against human trafficking in Missouri."
"It's very important that prosecutors, and community members receive the training that things like this task force will be providing, so that it will be realized, it will be prosecuted, and we can get these victims some help," Oliver said.
According to Hawley's release - Both The Poplar Bluff Police Department, and Sikeston's Department of Public Safety will be a part of this task force.
Here is a full list of the task roster:
Attorney General's Human Trafficking Task Force Roster
- Ben Butler, Cass County Prosecuting Attorney
- Kelly King, Warren County Prosecuting Attorney
- Jason Lamb, Executive Director of the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services
- Tim Lohmar, St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney
- Bob McCulloch, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney
- Dan Patterson, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney
- Catherine Vannier, Domestic Violence Resource Prosecutor, Missouri Office of Prosecution Services
- Eric Zahnd, Platte County Prosecuting Attorney
- Chief Chris Connally, St. Joseph Police Department
- Major Sarah Eberhard, Director of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, Missouri Highway Patrol
- Chief Brad Halsey, Independence Police Department
- Chief Sara Holzmeier, Truman State University Department of Public Safety
- Sheriff Randee Kaiser, Jasper County
- Sheriff Mark Owen, Platte County
- Chief Danny Whiteley, Poplar Bluff Police Department
- Chief Mike Williams, Sikeston Department of Public Safety
- Chief Paul Williams, Springfield Police Department
- Paul Banda, Anti-Trafficking Advocate
- Amanda Colegrove, Coalition Against Trafficking and Exploitation
- Pam Hamilton, Cornerstones of Care
- Rochelle Keyhan, Polaris Project
- Amanda Mohl, Anti-Trafficking Community Coordinator, International Institute of St. Louis;
- St. Louis Rescue & Restore Coalition
- Katie Rhoades, Executive Director, Healing Action
- Emily Russell, Victims’ Advocate
- Nanette Ward, Chair, Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition