Hotel employees join fight against human trafficking in Brown County

Published: Oct. 3, 2018 at 2:47 PM CDT
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Law enforcement officials and local hotels are working on a new partnership that will make the fight against human trafficking in Brown County more efficient.

“I think a lot of people are surprised there are issues here,” said Beth Ulatowski, director of sales for Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

At a human trafficking discussion hosted by NWTC Wednesday, Ulatowski said hotels should be part of the fight against human trafficking

“It's one of the main places human trafficking unfortunately takes effect and I think if they are aware as to what to look for, some of the signs then they can stop it immediately,” said Ulatowski.

“The more people we can get together and the more we can have community involvement and team, the more successful we can be,” said Jason Weber, public safety training coordinator for NWTC. “Law enforcement is not going to solve this issue, the hotel industry is not going to solve this issue and the general public isn’t, but when the three of us come together, as a team, we can be much more successful.”

To make it easier for police and hotel officials to work together, Sergeant Matthew Wilson with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office is crafting an ordinance or document with the Greater Green Bay Area Lodging Association.

“So we can collaborate to get the information we need as far as hotel guest names and room, to where the liability is taken off of them because we are using the information in a police investigation,” said Sgt. Wilson.

Sgt. Wilson said most hotels are willing to work with police because they know a victim is involved, but some are hesitant due to privacy and liability issues. When that happens, Sgt. Wilson said investigators use subpoenas and search warrants, but it takes time that they often don’t have.

“So we would like to essentially work with hotels and say, 'We need this information now. I's imperative to this investigation and without this information, we can't move further with the investigation and helping the victims of the crime’,” said Sgt. Wilson.

Sgt. Wilson said it comes down to following the law, both for law enforcement officials and hotel personnel, but he’s hoping this change in ordinance will help make the fight against human trafficking more efficient.

“They have policies and procedures they have to follow, as well as state law, so we want to make sure they are covered and we're covered on our legal end so we aren't violating the hotel’s rights or the renter of the room's rights either,” said Sgt. Wilson.

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