Governor Greg Gianforte and Attorney General Austin Knudsen hosted a press conference at the Montana State Crime Laboratory in Missoula to draw attention to the issue of slavery and human trafficking in Montana.
Surrounded by law enforcement personnel from the mayor and police departments,
Governor Gianforte opened the meeting with this statement.
“Human trafficking occurs in all of our communities across the state and we have to come together to act on this,” Governor Gianforte said. “It’s in our urban communities, it’s in our rural communities, it’s in our tribal communities, and really no society is beyond the scope of these crimes. In our tribal communities, human trafficking also contributes to the indigenous people missing and dead crisis. It’s a staggeringly tragic reality, but one we all face.” On a daily basis “.
On Talk Back on Tuesday, Attorney General Knudsen appeared with Hochter and Colonel Steve Lavigne, commander of the Montana Highway Patrol.
Knudsen credits Hochhalter for his direct interest in the topic of human trafficking.
“Lowell was one of the first guys to really catch me about a year and a half ago during my campaign,” Knudsen said. “He hit me upside down with a head two by four and told me how bad this problem was in Montana, because I really had no idea. But this is just a huge, massive problem, Peter, human trafficking. It’s sex slavery. It’s modern day slavery. People here in Montana they don’t really understand, and I think the scale of this problem. We like to think that this is Montana and it doesn’t exist here and that it’s a big city problem. But I’m here to tell you it’s definitely a problem. Lowell can talk about it more eloquently than I can. But yeah, that’s why we’re here This morning “.
At the press conference, Hochalter spoke of an experience that demonstrated the need for speed and urgency in responding to incidents of human trafficking. He cited an incident in Wye that was called to the Montana human trafficking hotline.
“I have two 13-year-olds who are offering me sex,” Hochter said. “Can someone come out and help. Two of our deputies replied, and by the time they arrived, they were gone. It was Thursday. The following Tuesday, I was in the mayor’s office and the captain of detectives walked over to me and said, ‘Hey, you’ll want to pay attention’ To this. This just came across the National Hotline. There seem to be two Wye girls knocking on truckers’ doors. This was the same accident as in the Earler days. I mean, if we’re late, we’re five days late.”
In other words, it took five days for the message from Missoula to reach the national hotline.
Governor Gianforti concluded the meeting by thanking all participants and emphasizing work to solve the problem of human trafficking.
“First of all, I want to thank you for the work you are all doing,” Gianforte said. “I take two messages away from this. One is awareness, whether this is the (hotline) number being promoted in restrooms across the state or in delivery trucks, and the other is that we need the resources to be aggressive on the part of law enforcement, So that becomes a hostile environment for these criminals here in Montana.”
The Montana Anti-Human Trafficking Hotline is 833-406-STOP.
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