The retired leader of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force is now at work in other states, training hotel/motel employees to be on the look-out for victims of sexual exploitation.
Steven Patrick O’Meara is president of an Omaha-based coalition that trained employees in more than 100 Omaha hotels and he’s now conducting similar seminars in Iowa, for starters.
“Much, if not most of sex trafficking is actually carried out in hotels and motels,” O’Meara says, “although I think currently that is often without the awareness of the hotel and motel.”
O’Meara says Creighton University research indicates in any given month, more than 800 people in Nebraska and Iowa are at “high and moderate risk” to become victims of sex trafficking.
A former federal prosecutor, O’Meara is now president of the Coalition on Human Trafficking, headquartered in Omaha. He explains, the goal of his training sessions is “to build in growing concentric circles to squeeze the air out of the balloon for this market.”
People who pay for sex are willing to drive more than an hour to a hotel or motel, according to O’Meara. He says that means hotel staff in urban and rural area need to be trained.
He’s encouraging people who book events at hotels to ask if the staff is trained to report suspected cases of human trafficking.