Nebraska has been seriously fighting human trafficking for four years.
Still, some find it hard to believe that people can be trafficked for sex or labor in Nebraska.
Attorney General Doug Peterson says raising public awareness of the problem can help law enforcement’s effort to combat it, but adds his office doesn’t have the money for a full-fledged public awareness campaign.
“But Nebraska is the type of state that if you get around to enough communities and start talking about it, it really does increase the awareness,” Peterson tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Peterson says police need the public to report suspicious behavior which could be trafficking. He says the dark web presents an ever-growing problem for efforts to find and prosecute those who traffic humans, mostly the young.
Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln has been at the forefront of the Unicameral’s efforts to enact tougher penalties against human trafficking. She says the mindset of many has changed in the years since legislation first was passed, but not enough.
“When you’re in the middle of it, you feel like everybody understands it, but then I go out in the community and there are people that just don’t even realize it’s happening,” Pansing Brooks tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Four bills have been filed this legislative session.
Pansing Brooks sponsors two. One, LB 516, would recognize human trafficking victims as abused and neglected children who qualify for state services. The other, LB 517, would give the courts the power to hit the finances of those involved in human trafficking by allowing monetary damages to be levied against the trafficker and the buyer.
Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn sponsors LB 518 which would appropriate $500,000 to create the Trafficking Survivors Act. Service providers could apply for money to fund programs that come to the aid of victims.
Sen. Julie Slama of Peru sponsors LB 519 which would give law enforcement more power to shut down human trafficking rings.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]