Hospitality industry employees get training on signs of human trafficking 24 days before World Games

Source: WBRC video
Source: WBRC video
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 6:13 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala, (WBRC) - We are now just 24 days away from the start of the World Games in Birmingham with hundreds of thousands of people expected in Birmingham. With that many people coming in law enforcement have spent time training the hospitality industry on what to look for when it comes to human trafficking.

Hotel Capstone on the campus of UA served as a one-day training site for those who work in area hotels and motels. The goal? Know what to look for when it comes to human trafficking.

Tytiana Ruffin remembers the man all too well, the one she promptly dismissed from a hotel in Tuscaloosa earlier this year.

“If he had the chance he could have done anything he wanted. I didn’t give him what he wanted and that was a room. Yeah, it was very uncomfortable,” said Ruffin.

This is the very thing the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force is warning people about, particularly those who work in the hospitality industry.

“But any time you have an event that brings in a lot of tourists your demands for commercial sex does increase,” said Sgt. Ashley Blalock of the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.

With just over 20 days to go for the World Games, now more than ever is the time to learn what to look for and why.

By definition, human trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain commercial sex. Anyone can be a victim. Hotels and motels are often the meeting place.

“Well, they all have to have some place to stay. No one wants to bring strangers to your actual house,” said Sgt. Blalock.

Signs to look for: does the person appear to be deprived of food, water and sleep? Is there a dramatic change in behavior and do they appear to be ‘coached’ on what to say?

Blalock encourages the public to get involved if you see anything suspicious. The way law enforcement looks at it, there is really no excuse to remain silent if another human is in danger.

“That may be that only chance that person gets recovered safely,” said Blalock.

Ruffin, meanwhile, did her part and will not hesitate to do it again, should there be a next time.

Based on what we learned at the seminar human traffickers use a hotel or motel about 80% of the time to carry out their crimes.

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