Anchorage mayor tackles labor, sex trafficking in Alaska

A new working group in Anchorage is bringing city, state, and federal resources to combat human trafficking across Alaska.
The Berkowitz administration is taking the lead on the issue, working with the state’s Department of Labor to hold regular meetings among law enforcement, advocacy organizations, and state agencies. At Monday’s meeting, officials from the FBI, Anchorage Police Department, several non-profits, and government bodies, including Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, chair of the Legislature’s judiciary committee. Personnel from the federal Department of Labor office in Seattle listened to the meeting by phone.
Much of the session covered how, if at all, participants imagine this group differing from a task force brought together by the last mayor’s administration. That effort led to a 2013 report on trafficking that included recommendations like establishing language access and shelters for survivors, updating law enforcement protocals, and creating “a permanent working group on human and sex trafficking.”
Berkowitz said that in addition to sex trafficking, he wants this current group to focus on labor trafficking and exploitation. Attendees agreed to meet again next month, with prepared briefs on past efforts to combat the problem, legal statutes for trying cases, and the resources available to survivors.