The first way to improve current anti-trafficking efforts is to provide face-to-face training opportunities to police officers and citizens. Fighting human trafficking requires that people can identify victims and discern instances of trafficking. This is especially true for police officers. Whether working in the Vice division or not, police officers may encounter situations of human trafficking at any time (Hughes 9). Because of this, all officers should be required to attend a course on the basic information needed to identify and assist trafficked people. Police officers that work in Vice should be required to take further training and other officers should be provided with the opportunity to attend. Being informed allows for law enforcement to actively participate in the prosecution of traffickers and will change their perceptions of its dangers (Wilson 157). Citizens should also be provided with the opportunity to learn more about human trafficking so that they will know how to help bring an end to it. Citizen training should be tailored to what citizens can do in contrast to law enforcement. There are publicly available manuals for law enforcement and education professionals available (McCraw 3) but providing classroom instruction on this problem will encourage more concerned citizens to find an active role to play in preventing trafficking and protecting victims and targets.
The Texas government should also partner with non-profits and major businesses. This not only means recommending organizations to victims in need, but also making them an active part of the government’s strategy against trafficking offenders. This should include police departments partnering with non-profit and nongovernmental organizations to conduct training conferences for interested officers. This partnership also means rewarding businesses that assist in the state’s anti-trafficking efforts and incentivizing other businesses to follow suit. Anti-trafficking partnership should extend to what businesses are awarded municipal contracts. One way to do this is by passing state legislation that makes it mandatory for cities to add a business’s history of directly or indirectly funding trafficking as a factor in the consideration process. This will further encourage businesses to regulate their practices to eliminate instances of trafficking.
The third way to improve Texas’ anti-trafficking efforts is by increasing current public awareness efforts. This should be done in partnership with non-profit organizations to set up events, create advertisements, and encourage people to contact the proper authorities about instances of human trafficking. Texas residents need to be made more aware of this problem, the organizations fighting to stop it, and government bodies specializing in the prevention, prosecution, and protection process. Awareness efforts should also include willing victims of human trafficking sharing their personal experiences, especially those trafficked in or through Texas. Raising public awareness campaigns statewide will make residents invested in the cause to the point of supporting legislative changes.
Lastly, the State of Texas should further improve its current efforts to curb human trafficking by increasing the assistance provided to victims of human trafficking. This is the most important improvement to the State’s anti-trafficking efforts. Protecting victims allows for efficient prosecution, further prevention, and stronger partnerships with organizations. Multiple news articles, including a Texas Tribune article, have criticized Texas saying that protecting victims is the weakest part of the government’s application of the tenets established by the Palermo Protocol and the TVPA (Smith 3). Texas should provide aid and protection to victims throughout the entire process. It should provide a well-guarded place for victims to stay immediately after rescue from trafficking environments. This will minimize the chances of victims being subject to the retaliation of their traffickers (McReynolds 49). Victims should also be provided with state-funded medical care and a social worker that specializes in assisting victims of human trafficking; “All victims of trafficking, regardless of whether that trafficking involves sex work, are at some degree of risk for medical problems” (McReynolds 50). Texas should also fund legal counsel separate from the state’s criminal proceedings so that victims can independently hold traffickers responsible in a civil court (McReynolds 48). Once all criminal proceedings are complete, the state should provide adult victims the opportunity to live in a community with other victims as part of their transition back into society. This community will be funded by the municipal governments in partnership with non-profit organizations. These efforts to assist and protect victims of sex and labor trafficking should also be backed by state legislation.