Last week at the University of Montana Mansfield Center, the Missoula Police Department and other state agencies hosted a conference on human trafficking for law enforcement.

Missoula Police Detective Guy Baker said the training was specifically for law enforcement agencies from several western states.

"It was law enforcement training that we called sex trafficking investigation and prosecution," Baker said. "It was for city-county, state and federal law enforcement prosecutors from Montana, Washington, Idaho and Utah, and we had over 200 attendees.It was a two day conference to give them a good foundation for investigating sex trafficking crimes in their communities."

photo by Peter Christian

Baker said he has been involved in training law enforcement for quite some time when it comes to the issue of human trafficking on Montana's Indian reservations, as well.

"That was the third training that I had been involved with in 2016 with the U.S. Attorney's Office," he said. "I had gone to three reservations on the High Line as part of my duties with the FBI task force for training with the U.S. Attorney to educate law enforcement in Indian Country."

"In the first three months of this year, we've  educated over 300 law enforcement officers in the State of Montana regarding sex trafficking," Baker continued. "Some of the training was on sex trafficking overview and investigation, state laws and federal laws, undercover operations related to operational planning. Then, we had victim specialists who presented options and opportunities that should be afforded to victims."

Baker said he believes Missoula law enforcement is helping to lead the way in the investigation of sex and human trafficking.

"I think Missoula is ahead of the curve," Baker said. "We've taken a leadership role in training law enforcement over the last three of four years and the Montana Regional Violent Crime Task Force that I'm assigned to has worked about 15 of those cases during the last three or four years."

Baker said the serious nature of sex and human trafficking will make it necessary to continue training law enforcement personnel in the future.