Ohio police training to include how to handle human trafficking

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Newly required training hours for Ohio police officers will include the basics of how to recognize and handle human trafficking cases, Attorney General Mike DeWine said Monday.

After making remarks before Ohio’s Human Trafficking Commission, DeWine told reporters that more people need the training in order to make state efforts against the crime the most effective.

He said progress is being made, but more people need to take the law enforcement training.

“The law’s been changed in Ohio. Part of it is changing not just the law but how we in society, which includes police officers and everybody else, looks at these cases,” he said. “A lot of times what appears at first to be a relatively simple prostitution matter, when you dig deeper into it is much more than that.”

DeWine said there are ample training resources available. Ohio added $15 million for several additional hours of annual advanced training for police in its latest state operating budget. The move followed a string of fatal police shootings and protests in Ohio and nationally.

Last year, about 5,000 officers completed human trafficking training through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, or about one in seven, DeWine said.

Human trafficking cases tend to be complicated, involving multiple victims, multiple suspects and multiple crimes. The commission was reconvened by DeWine in 2011. Panelists learned Monday that outreach and education efforts are beginning to show results.

In the first year after it was reformed, law enforcers received 71 human trafficking related tips. In 2013, the number rose to 124, in 2014 to 150. With more than 100 tips already received this year, the state is on track to receive 200 tips in 2015.

“We’ve made a lot of progress, but we have a ways to go,” DeWine told the gathering of about 50 people Monday.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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