ALBERT LEA, Minn. – The Albert Lea Police Department has been working with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs (OJP) for the last several months on the human trafficking problem. They are investigating whether the city has a human trafficking problem, and if so, what can be done to eliminate those types of problems in our area.
It is a problem communities do not want and care not to think about. The Albert Lea Police Department is taking a pro-active approach by investigating the cities situation and putting a plan in place to rid their city of these types of activities.
Victims are representative of the community’s population with 87% of victims being white.
The OJP says that having two major interstates highways intersecting nearby could be a factor for this type of activity going through the city.
The internet also compromises the situation as there are many underground sites that recruit victims and that the activity can go undetected.
“Times have changed. You’re not necessarily going to see this in our type of communities on the street corner. You really have to look for it. If you’re unwilling to look for it, you’re not going to find anything,” said Deputy Director J.D. Carlson of the Albert Lea Police Department.
Carlson said the local agencies are looking for trafficking taking place and will put a stop to it.
I think the number one thing is to train officers on the potential of identifying their concerns,” Carlson said. “What opportunities are out there for training? Can we be a training host site to bring other law enforcement agencies on board and share some of those resources?”
County Crime Victim’s Crisis Center (CVCC) and other local organizations say the findings confirm what they believed was happening, but the fact that is happening at all is concerning.
These concerned groups are hoping to educate the public especially children about this issue.
“They are going to be recruited, and we want them to be aware of what they need to look for. Hopefully this will open up our chances to get into the schools to offer education, maybe in a health class,” said Dotti Honsey, Volunteer Advocate with the CVCC
She tells us that there are not any shelters in Albert Lea for victims at this time, which she said can be a good thing. That way victims can get away from the areas where they were being used in the trafficking industry and have an opportunity to do better.
The research came at no cost to the police department.