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Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force Releases new data

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 4:23 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - January is National Human Trafficking Awareness month.

In a report from the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force, 57 trafficking prosecutions were reported in 2020. That number is up from 2019 when the state saw 33.

“It’s been very much a team effort and I’m glad to say as you look at our 2020 report we’re making some real progress and that’s due to everyone getting behind us,” Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said.

Peterson said the state, with the help of local organizations, have expanded their efforts to end trafficking over the years.

“We’re better organized. We have better collaboration. And we just have more programs that will respond to the needs of people impacted by trafficking,” Jessyca Vandercoy, a clinical director for the Women’s Center for Advancement, said.

Vandercoy said one of those programs was the INDIGO program created in 2016. It was created to provide direct services to young adult survivors of sex and labor trafficking.

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“We’re able to respond to mental health, physical health, legal challenges basic needs, physical safety, emotional safety all in one program,” she explained.

Data also shows that in 2020 there was a significant increase in trafficking cases, specifically sex trafficking. State officials say the next step is informing the public on what trafficking looks like and how to respond. Vandercoy said trafficking doesn’t always look the same.

“Certain groups that operate kind of sell a narrative that it’s potentially a stranger in a white van and there’s a kidnapping component and although that can happen most of the people we serve have been exploited by people that they thought loved them.”

The state now has laws that address and define human trafficking. Officials are looking for the passage of more specific laws.

“We in law enforcement, we’re in a position to investigate and arrest,” Peterson added.

State lawmakers will consider whether to add sex trafficking to the list of crimes that trigger mandatory sexual offender registration.

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