BEND, OR -- A local nonprofit is taking its fight against human trafficking to an international digital stage. The Guardian Group travels the country to train hospitality workers in how to spot perpetrators and trafficking victims.
Founder Jeff Keith tells KBND News those in the hotel industry are often on the front lines. "Most everyone has their eyes wide open when we’re doing this training, because they’ve already seen the problem, they just haven’t been able to put their finger on it. Every training we’ve done, some of the best input was after the training, when we talk about situations they’ve been in that they didn’t realize were trafficking, but they look back and yes, it definitely was trafficking." He adds, "So, obviously, the big thing is educating a large group of people in the hospitality industry. Helping them to see the problem. Not only to see the problem, but to be able to connect with local law enforcement."
On April first, Guardian Group will launch its online training platform. Keith says proceeds from the sale of the eCourse will help fund trainings Guardian Group offers for free to law enforcement agencies, nationwide.
Soon, hotel customers will see the "Guardian Seal" at establishments that have gone through the program. Keith says it’s a way for the community to get involved. "Where they can demand a response to human trafficking; they can be a part of the solution by going to hotels that have been trained." He says that seal will also help hotels to reduce their risk of liability. "Hotels are not trying to have this crime in their hotel. It’s just happening there because nobody’s really looking."