McDaniel appoints 40 to human trafficking task force


LITTLE ROCK — Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on Wednesday named 40 people to a state task force created by the Legislature to help prevent and raise awareness about human trafficking.

The State Task Force for the Prevention of Human Trafficking includes law enforcements officials, state agency representatives, community leaders and victims’ rights advocates. Its first meeting is Nov. 19 at the state Capitol.

“Human trafficking is beneath the dignity of the people of Arkansas, and it takes all of us working together to prevent it,” McDaniel said Wednesday during a news conference.

Act 133 of 2013, known as the Human Trafficking Act of 2013, toughened Arkansas’ human trafficking laws and offered new protections to victims. It also allowed the attorney general to appoint a task force to address human trafficking issues.

“The task force will develop a comprehensive statewide plan for prevention of human trafficking and will coordinate with law enforcement and government agencies to implement that plan,” McDaniel said. “The task force will facilitate information sharing among agencies with the goal of better identifying those individuals or groups who are engaged in these crimes.”

He said the panel will create policies to enable state officials to work with private organizations, such as Catholic charities, to assist victims of trafficking, whether they are U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, and will develop a curriculum for training law enforcement and judges on how to identify and question victims.

The law passed earlier this year gained national attention and the Washington-based Polaris Project in August identified Arkansas as its most-improved state in addressing the crime.

Standing with McDaniel during the news conference were state Reps. David Meeks, R-Conway, and Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, and Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, who were instrumental in getting the legislation passed.

Also standing with the attorney general were Assistant AG Will Jones and Reagan Stanford of Catholic Charities of Arkansas, who will co-chair the task force.