Law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin are not consistently reporting human trafficking cases, leading to incomplete information, and are likely undercounting the number of people who are forced into the sex trade, a report released Thursday by the state attorney general found.
The conclusion is based on responses from hundreds of Wisconsin law enforcement agencies to a state Department of Justice survey sent in 2019. Attorney General Josh Kaul told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of the report’s public release that it shows more work needs to be done to improve data collection, raise awareness of the problem and expand support for victims.
“There has been a growing recognition that this is a real issue that is happening in communities across the state and needs to be taken seriously,” Kaul said. “It’s a crime we need to keep working to address.”
Human trafficking is generally defined as the use of force, fraud or coercion to move someone, typically to make them have sex for money.
The goal of the survey was to gather more details about the perceptions, policies and data-entering practices of law enforcement agencies. The results show there’s still room for improvement among police agencies in consistently collecting and recording human trafficking data, Kaul said.
The report found that due to confusion about the legal definition of human trafficking and data entering practices, law enforcement agencies were likely undercounting the number of cases in the state.
Between 2014 and 2017, there were 118 incidents of human trafficking entered into law enforcement records management systems. An additional 139 incidents that were either prostitution or human trafficking were also entered by agencies that don’t differentiate between the two. In 2018, there were 66 human trafficking incidents entered and 35 that were either prostitution or human trafficking.
The state Justice Department’s Human Trafficking Bureau initiated 125 cases, recovered 138 victims and made 105 arrests between September 2017 and December 2019, according to statistics provided by Kaul’s office. It has also worked to spread awareness about human trafficking to both police and the public, holding 148 training presentations.
Law enforcement agencies said in the survey that they need more training on how to differentiate between prostitution and sex trafficking. They also expressed a need for more training about child sex trafficking.
While sex trafficking cases have been reported in every Wisconsin county in recent years, the survey showed more work needs to be done to raise the public’s awareness about the crime, Kaul said.
More attention has been placed on the problem in recent years, with the Wisconsin Legislature passing a number of bills to expand the definition, increase penalties and raise awareness. One recently enacted law allows for a person to be charged with sex trafficking for making money off victims or transporting them, even if there is no force, fraud or coercion. Another law, signed in November by Gov. Tony Evers, requires driver education courses for truckers to include teaching how to recognize and prevent human trafficking.
The one thing we know for sure is that we’ll have snow by Saturday.
Exactly how much is less clear. But forecasters got into the storm-predicting spirit Thursday, and their forecasts grew more ominous by the hour.
Early in the day, National Weather Service forecasters in Sullivan predicted 3 to 5 inches of snow for Saturday.
By about noon Thursday, the range jumped to 4 to 6 inches, and by 3 p.m., National Weather Service meteorologist Benny Van Cleve said he was looking at 6 to 10 inches.
Regardless of how much snow we get—whether it’s 2 or 10 inches—it will be the first ordinary winter event this year.
Seriously, think about it: Kids did their trick-or-treating in the snow, but the weather was warm and the ground was bare for Christmas carolers.
But back to the forecast.
Van Cleve explained that he saw some variability in snowfall numbers—yes, we get that—and those numbers could continue to change as the storm moves in.
“Janesville is toward the southern end of the storm,” Van Cleve said.
The band of snow northwest of the city likely will bring more accumulation.
A triangular area in the southeastern corner of the state, running from the corner of Rock County to Milwaukee, likely will see mixed precipitation: snow, sleet and freezing rain.
Here’s how the storm is expected to play out:
It will start Friday evening and night with mixture of rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow. Up to an inch of accumulation is possible.
“Travel impacts will be possible,” the National Weather Service announced in a news release.
What forecasters mean is that roads could be as slippery as a bar of soap on the floor of the shower.
A second round of snow is expected Saturday afternoon and night.
“Potentially significant snow accumulations” are possible, the weather service said, and the snow could be “heavy at times.”
Gusty winds will cause blowing and drifting of snow, which makes Saturday a good night to stay home and play gin rummy.
That’s our suggestion, not the National Weather Service’s.
Sunday’s forecast shows things returning to normal, more or less. It will be mostly sunny with a high of 24 degrees, perfect weather for shoveling out the driveway and going sledding.
A man shot and killed by Beloit police Dec. 10 was at the scene of a Dec. 7 shooting in Janesville, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Thursday.
The sheriff’s office’s investigation revealed that Montay S. Penning, 23, who listed two Janesville addresses as recently as April, was riding in a vehicle that was involved in the nonfatal shooting, which occurred in the 2900 block of South Highway 51.
A sheriff’s official, whom Adams Publishing Group is not naming, said Penning was not a suspect in the initial investigation. Authorities learned of his involvement only after his death.
Two Beloit men face attempted homicide charges in the shooting.
Virgil Lee Tate Jr., 25, of 312 Middle St., was arrested Jan. 4 by Chicago police and is charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
He is accused of firing the shot that wounded a man the night of Dec. 7 near the intersection of highways 51 and 11 on Janesville’s south side.
Ronald L. Hicks, 34, of 643 Hackett St., was arrested by Beloit police Dec. 24 and was thought to be the driver of the car Tate was riding in. He is charged with party to attempted first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
According to the criminal complaint against Tate, the man was shot after arranging to meet Tate at the Kwik Trip at 3123 S. Highway 51 to buy cocaine and heroin.
The victim told a Rock County deputy he believed Tate was trying to short him during the transaction, so he took the drugs without paying, according to the complaint.
The man said he was chased by Tate and by a dark-colored SUV before he was shot, according to the complaint. He said he jumped onto the running board of a passing SUV and was driven to Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville but did not seek medical help until days later.
In a Dec. 30 interview with a Rock County investigator, Hicks admitted driving the vehicle Tate was in and claimed Penning was a passenger in the vehicle, according to court records.
Penning was fatally shot by Beloit police Dec. 10 after they responded to a report of shots fired and a stolen vehicle near Henry Avenue and Riverside Drive in Beloit.
Police said Penning was shot because officers saw that he was armed in the 1800 block of Harrison Avenue.
An independent investigation into Penning’s death is underway by the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation.
Gillian Drummond, the department’s communications director, had no updates on the investigation Thursday.
Beloit Police Chief David Zibolski told the police and fire commission that state officials said the investigation could take 30 to 45 days before it is sent to the Rock County District Attorney’s Office for review.
Patricia Ida Goff Eichman
Daniel J. Skelton
Wayne Charles Starks
Hope H. Wunder
As tensions fester with Iran, President Donald Trump finds himself turning to the very people and entities he has spent three years dismissing or alienating: NATO, Western allies and U.S. intelligence agencies.
Trump, who once said that U.S. spy agencies should “go back to school,” is now highlighting the intelligence services’ work that led to the fatal air strike against Iran’s most powerful general.
“There’s some dripping irony, but nobody thinks all of a sudden he loves us,” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a recently retired 26-year CIA veteran who held assignments in the Mideast, Europe and Eurasia.
Also, after three years of dismissive comments about NATO and other European allies, Trump says he wants them to help more in the Middle East. He even suggested a new possible name of “NATOME” to add emphasis on the Middle East.
Following his order to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and the dangerous aftermath of Iran launching missiles at U.S. military installations, Trump said he would like to see more NATO troops in the Middle East because the problems there are international in scope.
His latest entreaty is also the freshest test of whether he can bend other nations and international alliances to his will and convince them to join with him after years of letting many of those relationships wither.
“I think NATO should be expanded and we should include the Middle East, absolutely. ... Right now the burden is on us, and that’s not fair,” Trump said Thursday.
Trump noted how the U.S. had crushed Islamic State militants, eliminated their control of territory and killed IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “We did Europe a big favor,” he said.
How receptive U.S. allies in Europe will be to working with the Trump administration on Mideast issues, particularly Iran, remains unclear, especially given how nations like France were dedicated to the Iran nuclear agreement that Trump abandoned.
“Trump has nothing in the bank with the Europeans. There’s no goodwill. There’s no sense of trust—no sense that they can rely on him,” said Derek Chollet, senior adviser for security and defense policy at The German Marshall Fund of the United States. “They are not going to be looking to do Donald Trump a favor.”
Chollet, who likened the U.S. fatal strike on Soleimani to taking a “baseball bat to the hornet’s nest,” also said Trump has not been specific—at least not publicly—about what he wants Europe to do. Help him negotiate a new nuclear deal with Iran? Sanction or punish Iran? Provide troops in the Middle East so he can pull U.S. forces out?
“‘There is no evidence that I’m aware of that European leaders are going to sign on to Trump’s agenda,” Chollet said. “If he pulls U.S. forces out of the Middle East, the idea that the Europeans are going to fill the vacuum—there’s no evidence that will happen.”
Since Soleimani was killed, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has engaged in a brisk round of telephone diplomacy. He has spoken to officials from China, Britain, Germany, France, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkey, Israel, India, Qatar, Belarus, Ukraine, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations. All the calls were about Iraq and Iran, along with other issues.
In a Thursday call with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Pompeo reiterated Trump’s call for NATO to become more involved in the Middle East. The State Department said the two agreed NATO could contribute more to regional security and the fight against international terrorism.
Ted Galen Carpenter, a defense and foreign policy analyst at the CATO Institute, said Trump’s call for greater NATO involvement is “not a terribly realistic expectation but it is consistent with Trump’s ongoing demand for greater burden sharing by U.S. allies.”
“He seems to have forgotten the European anger over his decision to cancel the Iran nuclear agreement,” Carpenter said.
European nations have worked to keep the Iran nuclear deal on life support after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement. Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA intelligence analyst and expert on Middle East politics and military affairs, said he thinks Iran will be careful about ramping up its nuclear program too much but that the killing of Soleimani has likely changed Tehran’s mindset.
“‘A very important element of why Iran signed the Iran deal in 2015 was because they concluded that the U.S. was not going to attack them. Bush didn’t. Obama didn’t. They thought they didn’t need a nuclear weapon to deter the U.S.,” said Pollack, who is now at the American Enterprise Institute.
“I think this has suddenly changed Tehran’s calculus—that Trump is so aggressive and unpredictable and ignorant—that they will look at this and say ‘You know what? We need a nuclear weapon.’”
Trump, who says he is not interested in ousting the Iranian regime, reinstated economic sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from the deal. He said it gave Tehran too many economic benefits without doing enough to prevent Iran from eventually developing a nuclear weapon.
Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, China and Russia have remained in the 2015 pact, but Iran has abandoned its remaining commitments under the deal, although Iran President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday that Tehran would continue to cooperate with U.N. inspectors.
Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that in coming days Trump will be asking the Europeans again to scrap the 2015 Iran nuclear pact. But even if Trump is successful in getting Iran to the negotiation table, nuclear talks take time. The presidential election is looming and Iranian military commanders are threatening further retaliatory strikes that would make talks unlikely.
Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior analyst on Iranian security and political issues who speaks Farsi, said despite losing its charismatic and capable military general, Iran remains resolute.
“That means Washington, more so than ever before, is going to need a regional approach to dealing with Iran,” said Taleblu with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.
Britain said in a statement Thursday that it stands by the nuclear deal and urged Iran to return to full compliance. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Trump appears to be open to negotiations on Iran’s ballistic missiles and the nuclear accord but that “at the moment, everyone is accusing each other of not abiding by the obligations of the treaty.”