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SLO County hotel workers learn to identify and respond to human trafficking

SLO County hotels learn to identify and respond to human trafficking on the central coast
Posted at 11:46 AM, Dec 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 14:46:29-05

The Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force held a seminar Thursday evening to educate those in the hospitality industry about what to look for and how to respond if they are ever in a situation that may involve human trafficking.

"I didn't realize how serious human trafficking was, particularly in California,and then in this area. I had heard rumors but I didn't really know how serious it is," said Matt Classen, Rooms Division Manager at the Avila Village Inn.

According to Assistant Director for the Victim Witness Assistance Program Beth Raub, human trafficking takes place in San Luis Obispo County because it is a tourist area, but it is also a central hub in the state for trafficking to take place.

"I think being a tourist area really increases the risk of trafficking through this area, especially for the sex trade, and so we want to be aware of that because that is a draw for people to come in," Raub said.

It is not just sex trafficking taking place, it is also labor trafficking with agriculture and domestic servitude being two of the biggest drivers.

"People are just coming through here for just a little while and then selling children or women in the sex trade and this is something we really need to stop in our community," Raub said.

Senate Bill 970 says hotel and motel employers are required to now provide training to their employees before the start of the year.

"Reinforcing existing policies so that we make sure we are open minded and aware of what is going on and asking for help if we need it," Classen said.

Thursday's training went over policies hotels already have in place but also educated participants on new terminologies and how to best approach contentious situations.

There are many things hotel employees need to keep an eye out for. For example, when visitors try to pay in cash or when people keep extending their stay days at a time.

You can call the national number at 1-888-373-7888 to report any potential cases of human trafficking.

Two more seminars are planned for next year in February:

  • Thursday, February 6, 2020; 1-3 p.m.
  • Friday, February 7, 2020; 1-3 p.m.

To register for the seminar or for any questions, contact Beth Raub at braub@co.slo.ca.us