Human Trafficking in the Keys

Human trafficking is a very real problem, and it’s “definitely” going on in the Keys, according to Tyson Elliott, human trafficking coordinator for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. Elliott stressed the need to train law enforcement officials and health workers to identify and assist the human trafficking victims among the “ballpark 250,000 kids reported missing every year.”

He decried, however, the fact that police academies statewide only provide a four-to-six hour block devoted to the subject during the average six-month training course to become a law enforcement officer. “It’s very difficult to get cops or the state attorney to take notice (of the issue),” he said, “unless you have a high-level in. It takes time for [awareness] to get through the police departments.”

Keys Coalition Chairwoman Connie Gilbert said the organization’s goal is to “get some training to the professionals who may recognize the signs and get some help to these people. As Tyson said, a lot of these kids are still in school.” The coalition has held several rallies since its foundation, including one at Key West High School that featured the viewing of a George Clooney-produced documentary titled “Playground,” which deals with the issue of child sex trafficking.

Learn more at Terry Schmida’s article: Official: Human trafficking ‘definitely’ in Keys.


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