Jackson City Council voted unanimously this week to work toward identifying and reporting human trafficking within the city of Jackson.
The resolution voted on by council calls for a policy that educates housing inspectors and relevant staff, such as police officers, to spot and report signs of human trafficking within Jackson.
“The Jackson County Task Force on Human Trafficking appreciates the city’s efforts in support of this issue,” County Prosecutor Jerry Jarzynka said.
Human trafficking - the trade of people for sexual slavery, forced labor and other aims - generates more than $30 billion a year in the trade of nearly 21 million people across the country. Closer to home, Michigan ranks second, behind only Nevada, in the number of prosecuted human trafficking cases.
“The plan is to work with human trafficking expert Dr. Jeremy Norwood and others to help train the city to be a factor in fighting human trafficking,” said Freddie Dancy, 2nd Ward councilman.
Norwood said the next step is to work with city administration and the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office to continue training inspectors and other relevant staff to recognize signs of human trafficking during home inspections and patrols.
“The proposed new policy will have the city playing a key role in helping to detect indicators of human trafficking in the community,” said Norwood, a professor of sociology at Spring Arbor University.
“Partnerships like these are crucial in not only identifying victims and helping them, but also bringing this issue to light so more don’t fall victim to it.”
Councilman Derek Dobies, 6th Ward, brought the issue to the city staff’s attention in 2013, and continues to work to increase awareness.
“Trainings like these are currently underway annually at the county health department, among counselors and among social workers in the community,” Dobies said. “It only makes sense that we join in the efforts.”