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Dinniman, County Advocates Mark New Pa. Human Trafficking Law
HARRISBURG (September 15) – State Senator Andy Dinniman today joined fellow lawmakers and anti-trafficking advocates to mark the enactment and enforcement of Pennsylvania’s new Human Trafficking Law (Act 105 of 2014) at a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda.
“Act 105, which officially became Pennsylvania’s new human-trafficking law on Sept. 2, is a major step forward in putting an end to this modern-day slavery in Pennsylvania,” Dinniman said. “I must thank all of the advocates, grassroots organizations and volunteers and also, my colleague, Senator Greenleaf, for their tireless efforts in making it a reality.”
Dinniman also announced the commencement in 2015 of human-trafficking training for all current and future municipal police officers.
Today’s press conference was led by Schuylkill Township’s Kathy Weir of the Chester County Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition. She expressed the coalition’s “heartfelt gratitude” to Sens. Dinniman, Greenleaf and their fellow lawmakers for passing Act 105 and demonstrating “that we are working hard to fight this crime within Pennsylvania’s borders.”
Dinniman said the major credit must actually go to Weir, her coalition and fellow Chester County advocates for working so hard to get the law passed.
“You came to Harrisburg today to thank us lawmakers, but it was all you from Chester County and elsewhere that were integral to getting this law passed,” Dinniman said. “Throughout our history, the people of Chester County have lived up to the Quaker and abolitionist tradition of our region in defending the freedom of our friends and neighbors. Now Chester County has stood up to human trafficking, which is nothing more than modern-day slavery.”
“Today, we have a law that cracks down on this nefarious crime. Today, ordinary citizens are empowered to combat human trafficking. So, if you see something, say something. Contact local law enforcement and let them know,” Dinniman added.
Dinniman encouraged anyone who suspects that human trafficking may be going on in their area can call the National Human Trafficking Resources Center at 1-888-373-7888 to report tips, connect with anti-trafficking services or request training or technical assistance.
The new law provides Pennsylvania’s first comprehensive legal definition of trafficking, strengthen protections for victims and ensure that local law enforcement personnel are properly trained in recognizing victims of human trafficking and holding offenders accountable.
“This is about protecting the victims and prosecuting the perpetrators of a heinous criminal enterprise,” Dinniman said. “Unfortunately, in the past, human trafficking was too often tragically mistaken for another crime, with victims treated as criminals and perpetrators facing much less severe offenses.”
Alongside and thanks to the attention the efforts of Senator Dinniman, Senator Greenleaf and others brought to the issue of human trafficking, the Commonwealth recently updated its police-training curriculum to specifically include special training on human trafficking.
“While we strengthened Pennsylvania’s human-trafficking laws, those that enforce our laws are also making great strides,” Dinniman said. “The state body that trains and certifies local police officers – known as the Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission – added human trafficking to its new Basic Training curriculum, as well as to its mandatory in-service training courses. Beginning in the new year, both future and present municipal police officers will be specifically trained in spotting human trafficking and its victims.”
Dinniman said municipal police officers will be trained in recognizing the signs of human trafficking and the words and phrases used in human trafficking, as well as in receiving information on investigating and prosecuting a case. The training will also include referral and resource information for officers to pass on to trafficking victims so they can quickly get the help they need.