The Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Report is the first of its kind. A year-long study of human trafficking in Cincinnati and the Tri-state area, led by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has found, based on some 140 interviews with law enforcement personnel, judges, social workers, healthcare providers, government leaders and other affected parties, several areas of concern:
- Lack of awareness about the problem both in the general public and among people who deal with it, such as police officers, judges and first responders
- Inadequate legislation
- Lack of training to help law enforcement identify victims.
More than 90% of the report’s interviewees say they are aware of trafficking happening locally, and just under half said they or their organizations have encountered victims directly. The report does not state the exact number of confirmed cases in the area, but it does note that many cases go undocumented.
“Trafficking cases are underreported both locally and nationally,” said Deborah Lydon, an attorney from Dinsmore & Shohl who helped spearhead the study. “Our first responders and social service providers acknowledged that they need better training to identify cases.”
In addition to inadequate training, the report says that existing laws and regulations covering trafficking are not streamlined and often come with weak penalties. States in our region also treat the crime differently: In Kentucky and Indiana, trafficking is a distinct crime, but in Ohio, it’s not.
The report offers two main conclusions for how the region should prepare for dealing with human trafficking: Focus on public awareness and training, and use benchmark statutes from other cities that would define
trafficking as a crime.
The Freedom Center was assisted on the project by more than 30 volunteers in the community including attorneys, law students, paralegals, and individuals from non-profit organizations interested in justice issues.
Read the press release.