Local elected officials highlight solutions to region’s human trafficking problem

Home » Local elected officials highlight solutions to region’s human trafficking problem

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw
Council President Sally J. Clark
Councilmember Tim Burgess

Local elected officials highlight solutions to region’s human trafficking problem

SEATTLE – King County Councilmember Jane Hague, Port of Seattle Commissioner Gael Tarleton, Mayor Mike McGinn, City Attorney Pete Holmes, and Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess today recognized national Human Trafficking Awareness Day by joining together with community advocates and law enforcement leaders to announce new tools and solutions to prevent human trafficking locally.  

“Sexual exploitation, forced labor, and other forms of human trafficking will not be tolerated here, and I applaud these new strategies to prevent modern-day forms of slavery,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

“As a major trade center, our region is a natural staging area for human trafficking,” said Metropolitan King County Council Vice Chair Jane Hague.  “I am very proud of the work that King County has done to help eliminate this dehumanizing crime, including the first successful prosecution in Washington State.  It is critical that we continue to shine a light on this issue, and work together with other local governments to increase the pressure on offenders.”

“Prosecutors and police see the damage of human trafficking every day on the streets of our community. State and local governments are recognizing the problem and giving law enforcement new tools to combat human trafficking, particularly in the area of the sexual exploitation of minors. We can and should do more to protect our children from those who would abuse them for profit,” said Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Sean O’Donnell.    

“A strong coalition is already working together to eradicate trafficking,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Gael Tarleton. “But we can’t do it alone, and that’s why we hope to educate the millions of passengers who pass through the airport each year about this crime and recruit them, as partners in the fight.”

“A critical tactic for fighting human trafficking is raising the public’s awareness of the issue,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “Exploiting people for any reason – whether it be for sex, labor or profit – is unacceptable in this city. That’s why I will continue to work with my fellow elected officials and law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors this month in Washington D.C., to protect Seattle from this violation of basic human rights.”

“My office, in collaboration with the Seattle Police Department (SPD), is already reallocating existing resources to attack the demand side of the sex industry, said Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes. “Where SPD typically referred – and we prosecuted – female prostitutes and male johns at roughly a 60-40 ratio, we are seeking to reverse that ratio. Prostitutes are more often than not victims, and in most instances, Seattle Community Court will be an option for them, coupled with appropriate services. Johns will not have this option, and even first timers will face prosecution and tougher sentencing.”

“Our state has made significant progress in the fight against sex trafficking and we can all take pride in what has been accomplished in the last few years,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess. “More needs to be done—and I’m pleased that more is being done—to help the victims of these crimes.”

“It is critical to the work of service providers and law enforcement and, most importantly, to the identification of victims, that the community recognize and understand human trafficking in all its forms,” said Jaimie Driscoll a spokesperson for the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network (WARN).  “WARN thanks the King County Council, the City of Seattle, and the Port, for their work in bringing awareness of human trafficking to its constituency and for its recognition of local efforts to combat trafficking in Washington State.”

Earlier this week, King County, the Port of Seattle, and the City of Seattle each brought awareness to the issue of human trafficking by issuing proclamations. 

Read the King County Council proclamation here.

Read the Port of Seattle proclamation here.

Read the City of Seattle proclamation here.

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