SUTHERLIN, Ore. -- Around 30 people packed the Sutherlin Community Center Wednesday afternoon to learn how to prevent human trafficking in Douglas County.
The Douglas County Human Trafficking Task Force gave a presentation on what the public should look for when it comes to spotting human trafficking. Many of those signs include some sort of physical or emotional abuse, isolation, coercion and threats.
The presentation also said another sign is if someone is unable to speak for themselves freely in public. Marion Pearson, the Douglas County Human Trafficking Task Force Director, says the general public is the first line of defense.
“Our law enforcement agencies are really well-educated in this crime, and so if they can spot it, they know what questions to ask,” Pearson said. “But it's really up to community members to know what to look for, what questions they can ask, where they think is a possible victim or survivor.”
The Interstate 5 corridor is a big region for sex trafficking because traffickers use the freeway to transport their victims between major cities on the West Coast. Douglas County is no exception.
Already this year there has been 16 reported cases of human trafficking through the Douglas County Human Trafficking hotline.
“We are high risk. We do have I-5 that runs right through this county. There is a lot of trafficking going on down I-5. People are being moved from other states within our own county because of the I-5,” Pearson said.