Columbia Heights Police Partners with Anoka County Sheriff’s Office to Fight Human Trafficking
Columbia Heights Police Department has partnered with the Anoka County Sheriff’s office to combat human trafficking in the city. The Community Policing Coordinator, Officer Megan Titus told Imprisoned Show during its monthly community get-together, “Coffee with a Cop” held recently at the Johnson’s Café that her department works with the Sheriff’s Office to rescue victims of human trafficking in the Anoka County Area.
The officer, who acknowledges that the crime may be hidden out of plain sight stated, “Human trafficking can be hard to recognize.” She further noted that an identified victim is rescued while the trafficker arrested. “We remove the trafficked individual from the situation, and make arrests if needed before the Anoka County Sheriffs step in,” said Titus.
Anoka County has a Human Trafficking Task Force with special training to handle human trafficking. The Task Force works to interview victims in a way that makes them feel safe. Even though the Task Force deals with a high volume of cases, Titus said the two forces form a partnership to work towards justice. “Anoka really has the best resources to deal with that stuff,” she noted.
Sergeant Justin Pletcher, a former member of the Anoka Drug Task Force, has experienced several cases of sexual trafficking in the course of his job. “You could tell something was wrong,” he said. Although the victims were not cooperating, he was able to positively identify them using Facebook and bringing them in for processing.
Pletcher said he keeps a close eye on motels within the city limits. “If things don’t look right, I’m going to be knocking on that door,” he said. Both officers said they have not seen much human trafficking in their area. The police force has worked to push sex trafficking out of their city. As a result, Pletcher said much of the sex trafficking has moved to neighboring cities with more motels.