SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Hotels, lodges, Air BNBs and any other lodging sites in Iowa must complete human trafficking training before the start of 2022.
The Iowa Department of Public Safety said lodges who do not complete the training will not be able to receive public funds in exchange for services. Sioux City Police Department crime prevention officer Andrew Dutler said awareness is critical for catching traffickers.
“If we can teach folks at our hotel and motel establishments about things to look for then sometimes when they’re happening in front of your face even if it’s not what you’re looking for in that moment, you might catch something that seems odd or seems out of place and then at that point you can contact law enforcement,” Dutler said.
While physical injuries are noticeable, Dutler said it’s important for people to identify subtle clues.
“It might be things that manifest in awkward social situations where an individual doesn’t seem like they have the ability to communicate with you,” Dutler said.
Bernadette Rixner is the outreach coordinator for the Siouxland Coalition Against Human Trafficking. She said human trafficking can come in many different forms.
“There are family members who sell people,” Rixner said. “There are gangs. There are individual traffickers and a lot of times they will choose to have the sex being sold out of a hotel or motel.”
Rixner said hotels can help victims of trafficking feel safer by completing the training.
“I think if I was a victim and I knew that this hotel or motel, that the people knew what to look for and they knew what to do if I reported it, I might feel a little bit safer in trying to get help,” Rixner said.
State-certified lodging organizations will be required to display their human trafficking training certification in their lobby or registration area once they complete their training.
The training initiative is required by a law (Iowa Code 80.45A) that was passed by the Iowa legislature earlier in 2021.
If anyone sees indicators of human trafficking or are being human-trafficked themselves, they are asked to call 9-1-1 or call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 888.373.7888