Over the past year, BEST and local partners have hosted training for hotel employees and law enforcement officers in five counties throughout Washington. Over 400 people have attended those events and have been trained to enable Washington hotels to become inhospitable to trafficking.
We have evidence of changes in attitudes about prostituted young people. These attitude changes are the first step toward behavior change. We are also seeing early evidence of behavior change in our Inhospitable to Trafficking project:
- Lodging Attorney Sandip Soli speaks at a training along with General Manager Bill Weise and Sergeant Jaycin Diaz.Law enforcement officers are gaining valuable information about victims and cases by reaching out to our network of hoteliers to ask for help.
- Law enforcement officers are recovering more victims and victimization is being prevented because hotel owners and managers are inviting officers to perform sting operations in their hotels.
- Hotel managers are training their staff to identify potential victims and report to law enforcement.
- Detectives report that downtown Seattle is becoming increasingly ‘inhospitable to trafficking’ because they are having trouble getting girls to meet them for sting operations in downtown hotels.
- Some hotel managers are now providing free, emergency short term housing for trafficked adults.
Here are some stories about outcomes:
- A Human Trafficking detective for one county was seeking information for a case involving the trafficking of a young person and as a direct result of the project, he was able to contact hoteliers to ask them for help identifying the décor of a hotel room in which the young person was photographed. Numerous hoteliers responded to his request and he quickly identified the hotel and was able to receive information from the general manager that led to a huge break in the case.
- Short term emergency housing for trafficking victims is a serious problem in Snohomish County. As a direct result of the project, at least one general manager is now working with victim service providers to provide free rooms for emergency situations. This manager is also advocating for other hoteliers to provide this service for victims.
- As a result of the project and training, an FBI agent sent an email in March asking hoteliers for help finding a 17 year old who was being advertised and trafficked in Spokane. He reported being very pleased to be able to have more eyes looking out for this girl. (He’s unlikely to be able to report outcomes until the investigation is closed.)