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Group unveils $1M plan to address Super Bowl sex trafficking

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Community leaders have come up with a plan to fight sex trafficking during the Super Bowl in Minneapolis.

The plan unveiled Tuesday includes billboard campaigns, statewide law enforcement stings and training for bus drivers, hotel workers and thousands of volunteers to identify sex trafficking, the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/2rhteg9 ) reported. The effort is estimated to cost about $1 million.

The 40-member group behind the project is made up of representatives from counties, nonprofits, hospitals, businesses and law enforcement who have spent the past nine months planning. The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Hennepin County and Ramsey County have been leading the effort.

“We have zero tolerance,” said Terry Williams of the Women’s Foundation. “We’re excited the Super Bowl is coming here so we can highlight our community and the work we’re doing here.”

Like other big events, the Super Bowl will likely draw an increase in online sex ads, according to experts at the University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Centers.

Law enforcement agencies are planning to coordinate targeted stings starting 10 days before the Super Bowl and lasting throughout the game, said Minneapolis police Sgt. Grant Snyder.

Along with bus drivers and hotel workers, about 10,000 Super Bowl volunteers will be trained to identify sex trafficking. The effort also includes providing more emergency shelter beds, increased street outreach and a tip hotline for possible trafficking.

The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee asked the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota in 2014 to lead the efforts. Other organizations and nonprofits have launched their own efforts to reduce sex trafficking, but the Women’s Foundation is the only campaign backed by the NFL.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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