BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge company has developed a new system to help law enforcement agencies spot warning signs and investigate human trafficking cases.
Just this week, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office arrested Jennifer Anselmo, 22, and Udraka Roberts-Bey, 25, charging them with human trafficking, among other things, after detectives say they found a 15-year-old girl acting as a prostitute out of a local hotel, allegedly working for the pair.
It is cases like this one that caught the eye of Peter Ranzino, president of the Learning Sciences Corporation. The Baton Rouge company has now created new software and a series of courses designed to better equip law enforcement to handle these crimes.
"It teaches them about awareness and how to recognize human trafficking versus traditional prostitution," says Ranzino. "It also helps to teach them how to investigate the crime itself and how to interact with the victim."
Locally, the crime is growing. According to the National Human Trafficking Center, in Louisiana last year there were 75 reported human trafficking cases, with more than 270 calls made to the hotline. This year, there have been 22 cases reported in the state and more than 40 calls into the resource center.
The numbers come as no surprise to Ranzino, who says the problem has run rampant for years under the radar.
"I know that there's a recent report by the Department of Children and Family Services which shows that there's over 200 cases of human trafficking, of which over 100 involve children that are underage," Ranzino added.
While it will not fully eliminate the problem, Ranzino believes the software will help make a difference.
"This is one of the more important courses I feel that we've ever built, just simply due to the nature of the crime and the effect that it has on our society," he says.