Tony Kavan of the Nebraska State Patrol spoke about human trafficking to a crowd of over 60 people at Luther Memorial Church on Sept. 24.  
WELCA, the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, organized the presentation.
Organizer Carol Wallman said, “It’s one of the bigger pushes with the churches to have people more informed about it.  
It’s the ladies’ organization and this is one of the things that they are promoting.”
Tony Kavan, a 1995 graduate of S-D-A High School, is currently assigned in Grand Island as a Domestic/Sexual Violence and Human Trafficking Specialist with the Nebraska State Patrol.  
After high school, Kavan spent four years in the Marine Corps and some time in the reserves before joining the State Patrol.  
He has specializations in Traffic Crash Reconstruction, Crime Scene Investigations, Blood Stain Pattern Analysis, Forensic Child Interviewing, and Internet Crimes Against Children.
Kavan explained that the law enforcement approach to the problem has changed over the last several years.  It is estimated that 900 people a month are trafficked in the state of Nebraska.  Human Trafficking is defined as: The act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for labor, services, or commercial sex acts by means of fraud, force, or coercion for the purpose of exploitation, involuntary servitude, debt, bondage, slavery, or any commercial sex act involving a minor.
In order to help victims who are being exploited and coerced in these situations, law enforcement has been trying to reach out to create trust with these women and children. In the past, they focused a lot on arresting women for prostitution.  However, Kavan explained that doing that only increases distrust of law enforcement and can make victims feel even more trapped by their traffickers.
Walman said she was most surprised by that.  “His thought is that he’d like to stop the ones that are buying these gals and stuff,” she said.  Kavan noted that until there is no “demand” for this, the problem will continue.
Though not all women involved in prostitution are trafficked, he said that through talking to many of them over the years he found that almost all of them were victims of human trafficking when they started and acted under a sense of obligation, coercion, or fear.  Kavan encouraged people to be more aware of others and look for signs that something isn’t right.
Wallman was happy with the great turnout.  She commented, “He did a wonderful presentation.  He was there for two hours.  It was very interesting. I was very pleased. They asked some very interesting questions and some of them visited quite a while afterwards.”