Rifle to host Western Slope human trafficking summit Friday | AspenTimes.com

Rifle to host Western Slope human trafficking summit Friday

Staff report

The criminal issue of human trafficking on the Western Slope and what's being done to prevent it and bring justice to victims will be the subject of a daylong summit Friday in Rifle.

Jan. 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Rifle City Prosecutor Angela Roff and the Rifle Police Department are hosting the 2019 Western Slope Human Trafficking Summit at Colorado Mountain College in Rifle.

The event, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., is free to the public, and is sponsored by the Klein Frank Foundation. It is open to anyone who would like to know more about how to identify and prevent human trafficking, according to the organizers.

In particular, residents and professionals who have regular contact with the public are encouraged to attend.

"Spotting the signs and identifying possible victims is crucial for elimination of the problem," Roff said in a statement.

"We have put together a broad lineup which includes presenters from law enforcement, attorneys, a survivor and community resources," Roff said. "The breadth of experience and perspectives will inform and inspire the attendees to put an end to human trafficking."

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The event will take place in the auditorium at the Rifle CMC campus, 3695 Airport Road.

Beth Klein of the Klein Frank Foundation said the public's assistance is crucial in spotting and identifying potential cases of trafficking, whether for slave labor, child prostitution, or whatever the intent.

"I am in this because this is a 'can do' community," Klein said in the statement. "With some knowledge, tools and connections, Western Colorado could eradicate human trafficking."

At the conference, participants will learn the law and meet stakeholders to learn more about the issue and "become part of the solution," Klein said. "We need as many people to participate as possible."

Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein emphasizes the need to have skilled observers in every town, no matter how small or seemingly remote.

"It is easy to dismiss human trafficking as something that only happens in large metropolitan areas and the 'can't happen here' mindset is a mistake that is easily made by law enforcement in smaller communities," Klein said in the statement.

Recently, three people were brought up on charges related to an alleged child prostitution ring that made use of a Glenwood Springs hotel.

"Trafficking happens everywhere there is demand for cheap labor and prostitution," he said. "It is up to our profession to become fully aware of the problem and support efforts to combat this crime and assist the victims.

"We must look beyond the victim, who can easily be mistaken as a 'suspect' at times, to reach the root of the problem — the trafficker himself and consumers of the services," Klein added. "Having the skills to recognize the signs, pushing an investigation ahead and knowing where to go for victim services is law enforcement's responsibility."

Klein said the training is the first step in battling a problem, which he called "an affront to basic human rights and decency."

Due to anticipated high participation, pre-registration is encouraged to guarantee a spot and to ensure adequate amounts of food and course materials. For an itinerary and to register, visit https://init2endit.com/western-colorado-conference.

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