Training to detect trafficking a good idea for local hotels

If there’s one thing people need to be proactive about, it’s human trafficking.

Human trafficking is defined as the practice of illegally transporting people from one area to another, usually for forced labor or sexual exploitation.

And it often involves young girls.

In a story in Tuesday’s Mining Journal, it was reported that Michigan ranked No. 6 in 2018 for the highest trafficking rates reported by state, according to the Human Trafficking Hotline website.

Is this a problem in the Upper Peninsula?

Brian Jensen, director of operations for Superior Oasis, said trafficking happens everywhere, and just because the U.P. has a population of about only 300,000 doesn’t mean it’s not happening here.

Superior Oasis, a local umbrella group of hospitality businesses that includes Comfort Suites, My Place Hotel, Hudson’s Classic Grill and Days Inn, on Monday conducted group training to teach staff how to look for signs of trafficking.

According to videos from the Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking Alliance, hotels are the main location for commercial sex to occur.

This means it’s particularly important for hotel staff to be vigilant about signs of trafficking.

Some of these signs are a lot of traffic going to one room, a patron with a minor who appears to be unrelated, male guests visiting a room at regular intervals and a guest appearing unusually distressed, afraid or coerced.

Lee Brown, general manager of My Place Hotel, noted it was important that the entire staff receive training, not just management.

We agree. Housekeepers, desk agents, maintenance staff and the like often are in better positions to notice unusual or suspicious activity. A manager, on the other hand, often is secluded in an office and wouldn’t see such activity.

Staff noticing signs of possible trafficking can report them to management, though, which then can contact law enforcement.

Hotel staff and management are good conduits in the battle against human trafficking. Law enforcement officials can’t be everywhere, and they rely on people in certain positions to help them out by observing and reporting suspicious activity.

Hotels are those certain positions.

Human trafficking might not be a huge problem in the U.P. yet, but its geographic seclusion also might make it ripe for traffickers to become more prolific.

We like the fact that the local hospitality business is taking a proactive stance with the problem, and that hotels keep up-to-date and ever vigilant to save vulnerable victims.