Government Research Bureau at USD hosts October conference on human trafficking

The Government Research Bureau and the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership at the University of South Dakota are sponsoring a conference on human trafficking from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3. at the Muenster University Center Ballroom.

Limited to 250 attendees, this event is open to the public while attendance is encouraged for law enforcement officials, social workers, 911 dispatchers, mental health professionals and victim/witness coordinators, the conference will educate the public on current human trafficking law, prosecution in South Dakota, historical background on case investigation and prosecution, and services available to victims in South Dakota.

“People need to be aware of human trafficking,” noted Rod Hair, director of the Government Research Bureau, “because it’s hard to stop it if there’s no awareness. This is an opportunity for experts to share their experiences and discuss the serious nature of human trafficking in South Dakota.”

The schedule includes a session on “South Dakota Human Trafficking Law” at 9:30 a.m., featuring Judge Joni Cutler of the 2nd Circuit Court for Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties and a graduate of the USD School of Law; and a 10:45 a.m. lecture about “Human Trafficking in Western North Dakota” from Paula Bosh, a victim specialist in the Minot Resident Agency of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division. In this position, Bosh works with victims of federal crimes from the northwest corner of North Dakota, including two reservations: Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation.

At 1 p.m., Kevin Koliner, appellate chief, United State Attorney’s Office, District of South Dakota, will discuss “Effectively Prosecuting Human Traffickers” followed by a 2:30 p.m. presentation from James Legg, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigations and current director of the South Dakota Fusion Center, on “Investigating Human Trafficking.” The final session of the conference is at 3:45 p.m. and devoted to “Working with Victims of Human Trafficking” from Susan Omanson, director of Be Free out of Sioux Falls.

“Human trafficking is at the forefront of law enforcement attention right now,” added Hair, who noted that 5.75 contact hours have been approved for social workers, and hours are being requested for licensed counselors and law enforcement for conference attendees. “You can be working just one case but 15 victims might be involved, so it’s critical that we educate and train people on the signs and awareness that lead to human trafficking issues.”

For more information about the human trafficking conference or to register online, visit www.usd.edu/trafficking_conf.

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