By MATT PIKE
St. Joseph Post
It's National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
The Missouri Highway Patrol is working with the Department of Transportation to focus on combatting the problem, as concern across Missouri grows.
Sargent Jake Angle with Troop H in St. Joseph says with two key interstates running through the area, patrols are on the lookout for all sorts of interstate crimes all the time.
"Weapons violations, drugs, and people being trafficked I'm sure up and down the interstate systems here in Missouri, especially, you know we have I-29 and I-35 goes through northwest Missouri here," Angle tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post. " So, it's more of officers being vigilant when they conduct traffic stops, conducting a complete traffic stop, and looking for any inconsistencies they might detect."
National Human Trafficking Prevention Month marks the anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, enacted in 2000.
Angle says the Highway Patrol urges everyone if they see something that doesn't seem right, to say something, adding that sometimes people have a hard time with that.
"A lot of times, people will see something going on, and they'll convince themselves well, I don't want to bother them, or they'll convince themselves well, I'm probably reading into that," Angle explains. "No, if you see something that doesn't seem right, the hair stands up on the back of your neck, you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach, report it, cause that's what we're out here for."
Missouri State Highway Patrol Spokesman Captain John Hotz says everyone should be aware of some of the circumstances to be aware of when looking out for potential trafficking.
"The presence of an older boyfriend or girlfriend, or someone who appears to be traveling with an older male or female companion who is acting as their guardian or controlling what they do," Hotz tells Missourinet. "Are there any signs of psychological coercion, does the person look like they're depressed or anxious, or are they overly submissive to the person they happen to be with."
Suspected human trafficking can be reported by calling 1-888-373-7888.