Scottsdale becomes first Arizona city to train staff to identify human trafficking victims

Jun 23, 2022, 4:45 AM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

SCOTTSDALE — Popular tourist areas have become a hot spot for human traffickers, making those in Scottsdale vulnerable.

“To be honest we’re a hub. We’re a hub for major events and major activities and with that comes illegal sex trade,” said Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther at a press conference on Wednesday.

That’s why the city of Scottsdale is working with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the Arizona Anti-Trafficking Network and Homeland Security Investigations to train its employees on how to identify, report and prevent human and sex trafficking.

Through the Arizona Anti-Trafficking Network’s Cities Engaged Against Sexual Exploitation program, Scottsdale has been able to train more than 75% of its staff on human trafficking.

Scottsdale is the first city in the state to be designated as a C-City.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said at the press conference that training like this helps stop human trafficking.

“We are able to bring not only awareness to this issue, but make sure employees and people within cities like Scottsdale know the signs and can help us deter and prevent anyone from becoming a victim of human trafficking,” Brnovich said.

Walthers explains since this training was implemented, there have been multiple instances when a city employee has saved an individual.

“We’ve already had three people, three employees in this city, call our Heat unit and say, ‘I saw something and it’s not right,’ and they were right,” Walthers said.

“That’s what this training provides.”

Arizona Anti-Trafficking Network also provides training on human trafficking to hospitality staff at hotels through its free Safeguarding All From Exploitation Action Project.

Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale was the first hotel in Arizona to receive the SAFE certification in 2020. This training was done by front desk staff, guest services, security, housekeeping and additional staff.

Adrian Aguawo, a security guard with the hotel who went through the training, said the hotel has trained 80% of its staff on how to identify, report and prevent human trafficking.

“You’re looking for a male or female with someone else, victims that could have bruising, be under the drug abuse, look fatigued and at the same time being controlled or manipulated by a trafficker,” Aguawo said.

Aguawo said it’s a group effort to identify human trafficking.

“You come to the hotel, we have valet staff, they’re looking for the signs right there,” he said. “Front desk, we have housekeeping, they’re going through the rooms, they’re checking and looking for any signs that are suspicious.”

Walthers stressed how important it is to bring awareness to human trafficking.

“The city of Scottsdale has said not on my watch,” he said. “I’m going to stand for those victims who can’t stand for themselves and we’re going to train everybody to see what is in plain sight, but nobody wants to see.”

The leaders at the press conference said the goal is to bring this training to every city in Arizona.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(File Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Ducey signs bill directing $335M to build border fence

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation Thursday that directs $335 million in state cash to construct virtual or physical fencing along the border with Mexico, part of a $564 million border security funding package that is the most ever spent by the state.
17 hours ago
(KTAR News Photo/Luke Forstner)...

Suspects in shooting of Phoenix officer indicted on first-degree murder charges

Two men accused of shooting a Phoenix police officer earlier this month have been indicted on three felony charges each, authorities said Thursday.
17 hours ago
Protesters shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona Capitol after the Supreme Court...
Kevin Stone

Proposed Arizona ballot initiative to ensure abortion rights running out of time

Proponents of a ballot initiative to amend Arizona’s constitution to guarantee abortion rights have a week left to gather enough signatures to put the issue before voters this year.
17 hours ago
(AP Photo/John Locher)...

Peoria joins other Valley cities in implementing first stage of drought management plan

Peoria on Wednesday became the latest Valley city to announce implementation of the first stage of its drought management plan.
17 hours ago
(Instagram Photos)...
Kevin Stone

Phoenix Mexican restaurant Ladera Taverna closing, will reopen as The Vig

Ladera Taverna y Cocina is saying adios this weekend after six years in Phoenix’s Sunnyslope neighborhood and will be converted into another location of The Vig.
17 hours ago
(File Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...

MCAO fires prosecutor who falsely charged protest suspects

The longtime Maricopa County Attorney's Office prosecutor whose charges against people arrested at a 2020 protest came under intense scrutiny was officially fired this week.
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Scottsdale becomes first Arizona city to train staff to identify human trafficking victims