KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Rep. Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, helmed the first hearing of a human trafficking task force Thursday at Union Station in Kansas City where members of the task force heard public testimony from one survivor of the crime.
In the coming weeks, the task force will hold more hearings where they hope to hear from victims of human trafficking, both publicly and anonymously. That testimony, Haahr says, could be crucial to finding a solution.
“We want to hear their story, how they got into it, how they got out of it… so we can figure out how to cut it off at it’s source,” Haahr said. The task force consists of elected officials, law enforcement, public safety groups and those involved in child well-being. Hearing testimony from victims helps fill in a blind spot on the task force.
“One of the things we don’t have on the task force are trafficking survivors,” Haahr said. “So, we have reached out to trafficking survivors. Some are happy to do it, like today, some want to do it anonymously.”
Haahr and the rest of the task force also heard from experts on the topic about how other states with more prevalent human trafficking crimes, such as New York, dealt with the problem.
First announced in August, the task force, organized by House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, and former President Pro Tem of the Senate Tom Dempsey, aims to combat human trafficking, also known as modern-day slavery, in the state of Missouri.