Atkins Introduces Legislation to Require Hotels to Train Employees on Human-Trafficking Prevention

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Senator Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) this week introduced SB 270, a bill that requires California hotels and motels to train employees on how to recognize the signs of human trafficking and how to report those signs to law enforcement.

“Hotels are ground zero for sex trafficking in this state,” Atkins said. “Sex traffickers are exploiting some of the most vulnerable people in our society, including children. These victims are often hiding in plain sight, and traffickers take advantage of the fact that many hotel employees don’t recognize the signs of human trafficking. We’ve seen the good that can happen in the service industry – in ride-sharing services and in airplanes, for example – when employees know what to look for. SB 270 will play a key role in helping to reduce this crime.”

Atkins said she’s grateful that the California Hotel & Lodging Association supports the bill.

Lynn S. Mohrfeld, president and CEO of the California Hotel & Lodging Association, said, “As an industry, we recognize the important role that hotels can play in fighting human-trafficking networks that often rely on hotels to sustain their operations. We thank Senator Atkins for taking the lead on this issue and look forward to working together on this bill.”

Human trafficking is rampant in California, which is home to three cities on the FBI’s list of the top 13 cities for sex trafficking – San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Researchers at the University of San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene University have estimated that as many as 11,000 people in the San Diego region alone could be victimized each year. Often, these crimes go unreported.

For hotels and motels that wish to create their own employee training programs, SB 270 establishes minimum requirements, including that any such programs must be approved by the state Department of Justice. SB 270 also requires the Department of Justice to develop and post online an approved training program for use by all other California hotels and motels. Under the bill, all employees must receive this training by Jan. 1, 2019.

SB 270 follows SB 230, another human-trafficking bill introduced this session by Senator Atkins. SB 230 allows prosecutors – with permission from a judge – to present evidence of a criminal defendant’s past crimes of sex trafficking at trial.