On Tuesday Columbia Police Chief Michael Kelly was part of a ceremony at the Capitol in Jackson honoring Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn on legislation to combat human trafficking.
“It is amazing to see how many victims there are in human trafficking even in small-town Mississippi,” Kelly said.
The legislation, according to State Rep. Ken Morgan, is one of the toughest in the country.
“We get calls from other states on how to write legislation to combat this,” he said.
Morgan said most people cannot comprehend how sick some people are, with even small children being forced to become sex slaves here in Mississippi.
“Human trafficking doesn’t look like what it used to. Both girls and boys are being victimized,” Morgan said.
The legislation aims to go after the source of the problem, specifically the buyers and the sellers of the victims.
Kelly has been active in the fight on human trafficking. Various workshops aimed at citizens and students have been put on to bring to light the dangers of such issues, even in Marion County. Kelly has worked more than once with Jody Dyess who is the National Director of Student Outreach and Awareness at F.R.E.E. International.
In House Bill 571, which became effective July 1, 2019, it protects the victims by not charging the victims of human trafficking of prostitution. The bill passed unanimously
Tuesday, though, was about law enforcement and others honoring the work Gunn has done in the battle. Gunn, who set up a trafficking task force, was presented with the Mississippi Center of Violence Prevention Award.
The law has provided training to allow law enforcement and others to recognize signs of human trafficking and the ability to save the victims.