Officers work to stop human trafficking on our highways

January Law of the Month: Human trafficking prevention

Release date: January 3, 2024

The Wisconsin State Patrol’s January Law of the Month encourages all Wisconsinites to learn about human trafficking and help stop the crime in our state.

Human trafficking is a felony crime that involves the use of force or threats for sexual exploitation or labor. Traffickers manipulate their victims through force, fraud and coercion, and use psychological tactics to maintain control.

Trafficking is often a hidden crime that happens in urban and rural communities across the country, including in Wisconsin. All State Patrol officers are trained in recognizing the basic indicators of human trafficking, the questions to ask, and options to help connect a victim with available social services.

“The interstate system can be a conduit for human trafficking, so our troopers and inspectors know what to look for on every traffic stop and will intervene if necessary,” Superintendent Tim Carnahan said. “We also maintain strong partnerships with other agencies, organizations and industries that can help us identify someone who may be trafficked and get them to safety.”

Partnerships to fight trafficking

The transportation and trucking industries have an important role in preventing human trafficking. The State Patrol works with commercial motor vehicle drivers to encourage them to recognize the signs of trafficking and report suspicious activity.

All new interstate companies must complete an educational New Entrant Safety Audit that includes a review of human trafficking information. The Wisconsin DMV also requires commercial driver license schools in Wisconsin to include instruction in the recognition and prevention of human trafficking.

During National Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January, the State Patrol will join the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA)’s Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative. From January 8-12, 2024, officers will connect with commercial motor vehicle drivers and provide educational materials to let them know what to do if they suspect someone is being trafficked.

Identifying trafficking

All Wisconsinites can have an impact to prevent human trafficking in our communities. Recognizing key indicators of trafficking can help save a life. The following could be signs someone is vulnerable:

  • A sudden or dramatic change in behavior
  • Becoming disconnected from family, friends, or community organizations
  • Signs of mental or physical abuse, or deprivation of basic needs
  • Indication of being coached on what to say, or not in control of their own decisions

If you encounter a situation you suspect is human trafficking, do not approach anyone involved. Gather as much information as possible and contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733. If there is an immediate danger, call 911.

Read more about the indicators of human trafficking and other resources in Wisconsin online.

For more information, contact:

WisDOT Office of Public Affairs
(608) 266-3581,