January 30, 2019

CORTEZ MASTO, CORNYN, HASSAN INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO HELP LAW ENFORCEMENT IDENTIFY CHILD TRAFFICKING VICTIMS

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Margaret Wood Hassan (D-N.H.) introduced the Interdiction for the Protection of Child Victims of Exploitation and Human Trafficking Act. This legislation would require the U.S. Attorney General to establish a pilot program to train federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers to recognize and rescue at-risk and exploited children. Congressmen Michael McCaul (R-TX-10) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) introduced its companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Patrol officers are regularly trained to know the signs of drunk driving and drug trafficking at traffic stops, but we need the same focus on identifying child trafficking victims,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This legislation will provide that much-needed training to law enforcement officers across the country, helping them recognize and rescue victims who may be hiding in plain sight. I’m proud to be fighting in the Senate to give police officers in Nevada, and across the country, the knowledge they need to help protect innocent kids.”  

“Everyone recognizes that the exploitation and trafficking of children is a heinous crime, but spotting it in our own neighborhoods requires special training,” said Senator Cornyn. “Educating law enforcement officers to know the signs of a child in distress is crucial to rescuing them from the hands of these criminals.”

“Many at-risk and exploited children do not show obvious signs of distress, and too often, our dedicated law enforcement officers don’t have the training they need to recognize these subtle cries for help,” Senator Hassan said. “This bipartisan legislation will help to train law enforcement officers across the country to better recognize the signs of child trafficking and protect our kids.”

“Human trafficking enslaves an estimated 25 million people worldwide, including more than 300,000 people in my home state of Texas. I commend the Texas Department of Public Safety for developing the Interdiction for Protection of Children training program to educate patrol officers and child service professionals across the country,” said Congressman McCaul. “With few resources and little money, Texas has led the nation in the battle to end trafficking and safeguard our children. This legislation establishes a pilot program for federal, state, and local law enforcement to provide this essential training. I want to thank Senators Cortez Masto and Cornyn, along with Congressman Cuellar, for their commitment and dedication to eradicating this horrific practice.”

"It is essential that we do everything in our power as lawmakers to prevent child trafficking by providing our law enforcement officers with all the resources they need to bring at-risk children to safety," Congressman Cuellar said. “This legislation will provide the means to equip our law enforcement agents through the Interdiction for Protection of Children (IPC) Program to identify trafficking and exploitation cases. It will also make the IPC training, proven successful as a standard for the Texas Highway Patrol Troopers, available to local organizations and members of the community through a grant program for partner agencies. I thank Senators Cortez Masto and John Cornyn, as well as Congressman McCaul for their leadership and commitment to this issue."

"Children who go missing, who are abused or at-risk of being exploited will not always make an outcry for help, even when they see an officer," said Captain Derek Prestridge of the Texas Department of Public Safety. "Knowing this, the IPC program trains officers to look for indicators that could help identify and rescue child victims during seemingly routine encounters with the public, as well as identify and arrest the ruthless criminals suspected of committing crimes against children. Thanks to the IPC program, officers in Texas and other states have been able to protect hundreds of children across the country since the program's inception."

“The ability for officers to understand and identify, with clarity, those calls for service from the onset that involve child exploitation and human trafficking is essential training for all agencies,” said Carson City Sheriff Kenneth Furlong. “This bill supports those very first moments of contact with law enforcement when the collection of the initial information and observations made by the officers is most critical. The training, experience, and level of knowledge possessed by the first line police officers often make the difference in prosecutions and saving the lives of the victims being exploited.”   

BACKGROUND:

In 2008, the Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS) realized that their officers regularly identified fugitives, stolen automobiles and illicit drugs during traffic stops, yet had no protocol for identifying missing or at-risk children. In response, the TXDPS developed the Interdiction for the Protection of Children (IPC) training program to help train patrol officers to recognize suspicious behaviors in adults and children indicative of child trafficking and exploitation. The program also trains officers on protocols and procedures for interacting with potential child victims.

The Interdiction for the Protection of Child Victims of Exploitation and Human Trafficking Act would increase the availability of IPC training for law enforcement officers across the country by:

  • Establishing a pilot program to train federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers to recognize and rescue at-risk and exploited children.
  • Creating a grant program for agencies wishing to carry out IPC training.
  • Regularly reporting on the successes of the program.

The Interdiction for the Protection of Child Victims of Exploitation and Human Trafficking Act is supported by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.