Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti recently joined a bipartisan group of 35 state attorneys general in sending a letter to Congressional leaders requesting assistance regarding the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
The hotline, which has been operated by Polaris since 2007, is funded through Congress and relied on by many states to “forward tips of suspected human trafficking to local law enforcement to arrest traffickers, safely recover victims, and uncover evidence of trafficking rings and operations.”
However, the group of attorneys general reported that in recent months, it was revealed that Polaris only forwards tips to state law enforcement about adult victims in limited circumstances. In addition, the group reports that states have “discovered a delay of even several months before the Hotline shared tips with states.”
According to the attorneys general, these practices are “contrary to what Polaris advertises, to what states and organizations have come to expect from this partnership, and, the attorneys general believe, to what Congress expects from its funding.”
In addition, Polaris’ failure to deliver on these expectations “dramatically diminishes the value of the Hotline to any of these efforts,” the group added.
A group of state attorneys general recently met with Polaris to discuss these issues; however, they continued to call for congressional assistance after concluding that the company “indicated no intention to revise its policies. “
In their letter, the 35 attorneys general – including Skrmetti – called on Congress to “ensure that Polaris makes changes to its current and reported planned tip reporting policies to begin forwarding tips regarding suspected human trafficking of adults, in a prompt manner, to the corresponding state’s law enforcement officials for their evaluation and response to ensure victim safety.”
“We cannot afford to lose the benefits of this federal-state partnership to end trafficking,” the group added.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.