HELENA – Law enforcement officers and the public received training this week on missing persons cases, particularly those involving Native Americans, from across the state.
The training was a joint effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Montana and the Montana Department of Justice.
Presenters included trainers from state and federal agencies and organizations including the FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Amber Alert.
Experts explained how different cases are handled, from missing and abducted cases to those of adult runaways and also detailed the warning signs of sex trafficking.
Mark Pollock, a member of the Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force who also serves on the Blackfeet Tribal Council, spoke with MTN about the significance of the training sessions held the last two days, stating, “To hear their stories, you can’t help but be affected by it.”
“By hearing what happened to them and all of the things they have gone through,” Pollock continued. My hope is so that we don’t have to have those stories like that out there anymore.”
The public was also shown the different missing persons databases and how they can be used.
Experts say the most common age of a victim missing due to criminal activities related to sex trafficking is between 12 and 15.
Commonly, sex traffickers will “groom” victims and get to know everything about that person to gain their trust before exploiting them.
Red flags that family and friends can watch out for include: a sudden change in routine; expensive gifts or other items like new clothing, phones or tattoos.
If parents see any of these red flags, it is advised they contact law enforcement.
-Christine Sullivan reporting for MTN News