The Lake County Sheriff's Office and Salish Kootenai College teamed up to put on a sex trafficking training for law enforcement and justice system employees.
The purpose of Monday’s training is to make law enforcement and justice system personnel more aware of the seriousness of sex trafficking in Montana.
According to a study from Missoula Human Trafficking Task Force, indigenous women and girls make up 3.3% of Montana’s population, but 30% to 40% of those people are deemed missing in Montana.
This is why it’s crucial to make as many eyes aware of this issue.
"We only see what our eyes are trained to see, right. So if we don't know what to look for how are we going to be able to identify it," emphasized UM social worker Kat Werner.
Werner explained this is why over 30 officers from multiple law enforcement agencies in the Lake County area attended Monday's training to learn how to look for signs of sex trafficking and to find out exactly what tools and resources they have available for a successful investigation.
"It's very important we bring awareness to this issue because you know these victims find themselves in a very terrible situation and sometimes it only takes one person, one law enforcement person, or someone in the justice system, or someone in the community to come forward that ends up in a rescue of this victim and gets them out of a terrible situation," said Missoula Police Detective Guy Baker.
Baker emphasized it takes just one person to save victims.
And Werner explained how people can appropriately support a victim that has gone through a traumatic experience.
"What are traumatic experiences that victims are going through and how do we, no matter if you are law enforcement or social workers or therapists respond to those experiences," explained Werner.
It takes the support of a whole community, which is why Detective Baker and Werner also hold trainings for the public including Monday evening.
"It’s not a law enforcement problem it’s a community problem and we'll be more successful if we approach it as such," emphasized Detective Baker.