Mayor Chris Beutler today encouraged local hotel and motel managers to have their staffs participate in a training program to help them recognize signs of human trafficking. The "Realize, Recognize and Respond" program, offered by the Coalition on Human Trafficking, also trains those in the lodging industry how to respond safely to suspected cases and how to inform law enforcement.
"Statistics show that 70 to 80 percent of human trafficking occurs in hotels," said Mayor Beutler. "Without the knowledge of how to identify a potential trafficking situation, victims will continue to be transported from hotel to hotel from city to city. And yes, trafficking occurs everywhere, including Lincoln. No hotel is too big or too small to have this horrible crime occur in its establishment." Mayor Beutler will send a letter to local hotel and motel managers asking them to participate in the free, 30- to 45-minute training program.
The Coalition is a group of concerned organizations including religious groups, agencies working with women and children, law enforcement and the health care industry. "Most people don't think of or don't want to think of Lincoln as a hub for this type of seedy behavior, but it's real and it's a growing problem," said Sister Celeste Wobeter, a Notre Dame Sister in charge of the Coalition's Hotel/Motel Training Committee. "We have to open our eyes to what's around us and start recognizing the signs."
The United Nations defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose, including forced labor or sexual exploitation
Sister Wobeter attended this morning's press conference along with Senator Patty Pansing Brooks; Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister; Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner; Glen Parks from the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force in the Attorney General's Office; Meghan Malik of the Women's Fund of Omaha; and Lucas Arias of the Lincoln Lodging Association.
For more information about the training program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-373-7888.