Lawmakers and police are taking action in the wake of the eight-month “Turn to Tara” investigation into human trafficking across the Hudson Valley.
The “Slavery in Suburbia” report put a microscope over the issue, and was noticed by hundreds of viewers, activists, elected officials and law enforcement leaders.
“We got ahead of this with public outreach,” said Greenburgh Police Chief Chris McNerney. “With our forums in Greeburgh and Pace Law School, we have built relationships with hotels.”
MORE: Slavery in Suburbia Part 1: Sex trafficking of children flourishing in the Hudson Valley
MORE: Slavery in Suburbia Part 2: Victim describes life as an underground sex slave
MORE: Slavery in Suburbia Part 3: Woman recounts job opportunity turning into slavery
MORE: Slavery in Suburbia Part 4: Sex trade thrives online
Many of those hotels are on an interactive map where News 12 viewers can see what crimes police have responded to. The La Quinta Inn in Elmford had the most hits in Westchester.
“It’s not just happening at La Quinta. It’s happening at other hotels in town. It’s happening at neighboring communities, and we are all doing what we can to combat this,” said McNerney.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner now wants to become the first municipality in the state to proactively start training hotel and motel workers on the warning signs of human trafficking even before a new state law could require it.
“We want to work proactively with the hotels and want management and employees to recognize we take this seriously,” he said.
While he's definitely come across more prostitutes than trafficking victims on the job, Chief McNerney hopes the change could have an impact on the booming “sex for sale” business in Greenburgh, which attracts sex workers from across the country.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin's bill that would require mandatory training for hotel workers has passed the state Assembly but not the Senate.