City of Austin to form team to target human trafficking related to big events


The city of Austin is forming a team to target human trafficking related to big events, according to a new memo from the City Manager.

Five years ago, the city passed a resolution targeting human trafficking and since then, the city manager’s office has worked with the Austin police, fire and code departments and ATCEMS to ensure employees are trained to identify and stop trafficking.

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The city of Austin is forming a team to target human trafficking related to big events, according to a new memo from the City Manager.

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Now, the city is looking at next steps including the formation of a group that will begin meeting next week. They hope to implement policies to “prevent and reduce trafficking in all city tourism initiatives and city-sponsored events.”

Steven Phenix of the Refuge Ranch, the largest longterm care facility for juvenile sex trafficking victims in the U.S., warns there is unreliable evidence sex trafficking increases as a result of large events.

RELATED: Study: Sex trafficking has increased in Austin-area during pandemic

“What happens on those other 364 days, so law enforcement and posters are all over the city on ACL Fest but what happens the rest of the year?” Phenix said. “So it’s this shotgun approach that needs to be day in, day out, 365 days a year.” 

Representatives from special events, economic development, the Austin Convention Center and Austin Police plan to participate in the group that begins meeting next Wednesday.

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