Minneapolis ups its response to sex trafficking

Six months after passing a resolution formally requesting Backpage.com stop running ads that law enforcement says contributes to minors being sold for sex, the city council received its first report on the police department's response to trafficking.

The jist of it: since February 2011, 19 defendants have been charged with trafficking and 18 girls were rescued.

Officials from the Minneapolis Police Department told the city council that they're increasing the number of investigators devoted to juvenile trafficking from one to two. A release from the city today says the department is also moving two sergeants from the Juvenile Unit to the Child Abuse Unit to assist with juvenile sex trafficking investigations. They'll focus mainly on the Absenting Project - a program that keeps juvenile runaways out of the criminal justice system. The idea is to identify kids at the highest risk and get them to safety before they can be sexually trafficked.

Last week Minneapolis police held a training with Hennepin county hotel employees to recognize signs of trafficking on their properties. Sasha Aslanian's story on that effort is here.

Minneapolis police say every victim rescued from sex traffickers last year was a runaway.

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