CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS/AP) - Gov. Eric Greitens has signed a bill that will require businesses that might see high levels of human trafficking to be required to hang posters with information about a national human trafficking hotline.
The governor signed a bill Thursday that will compel businesses such as truck stops, bus stations, some hotels and strip clubs to hang the posters starting March 1, 2019.
One of the bill's sponsors, Republican Rep. Patricia Pike, has said the bill increases victim's access to the hotline and promote awareness of human trafficking in the state, which is a hotspot for human trafficking because of its central location.
Supporters said the bill is a good first step in combating human trafficking. Several other bills addressing the issue were filed for this year's legislative session.
Advocates in southeast Missouri said they hope these signs will not only give information to the victims but also inform the community that human trafficking is possible even in their neighborhood.
"To say it's not happening here I think that would be a misconception," said Jacquie Descanado, on Missouri's human trafficking task force speakers bureau.
Tish Gentry, Southeast Missouri's GO:61 representatives, said when she first came to southeast Missouri a lot of people didn't know what human trafficking was.
Gentry said human trafficking takes many forms. "It's the exploitation of any person through force, fraud or coercion to exploit them," Gentry added.
She said some red flags to look for are: someone who is anxious or tense doesn't know where they are, traveling in groups, and has little or no personal possessions.
"You know it really doesn't take a whole lot to recognize someone in need and we've always said it's better to be wrong and just offer a hand then to pass something up," said Gentry.
Both women want to remind you, not to get too involved because it could be dangerous.
"If you are interrupting someone's paycheck and the trafficker is depending on that boy or that girl to make his money and you get involved, you could be in danger," said Descanado.