CSPD's Vice and Human Trafficking unit nationally recognized
Man arrested at Pine Creek High School
COLORADO SPRINGS -
The Colorado Springs Police Department's Vice and Human Trafficking Unit has been nationally recognized for their work to keep kids safe here in Southern Colorado.
The unit was formed in 2014. In only two years they've recovered 115 victims and arrested 29 traffickers and 56 sex buyers. Police said collaboration with the community has influenced their efforts because human trafficking happens everywhere.
Organizations like the Greenberg Center for Learning and Tolerance have hosted human trafficking forums to raise awareness and help the public learn which warning signs to look for.
"You think it's not there, but it is there," said Anne Marie Pacitto, a board member for the Greenberg Center. "If you don't know the signs and have awareness about what you're looking for or what you're looking at, things are going to roll right by you and crimes are going to happen under your nose."
Statistics released at the beginning of the year from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center show 500 more cases were reported nationally in 2015, an increase of about 9 percent since 2014.
"I'm not so sure that it is happening more," CPSD Lt. Howard Black said. "I think we're doing a much better job today than in years past in dealing with this issue."
Pacitto said she believes all citizens have potential to help law enforcement put traffickers behind bars. "Educating yourself, getting involved, taking a look at your own habits and actions is so critical," she said. "That's where it stops. That's where it ends is with yourself."
More information about human trafficking warning signs and community resources can be found here: