Members of the Frederick County council are working together to get rid of a growing crime that they say is hidden in plain sight.
“It’s a very hard crime to track,” said council member Jessica Fitzwater. “[Human trafficking] is the most underreported crime. Victims don’t self report. But, it is, as was mentioned in the workshop, one of the highest growing crimes,” she explained.
At Tuesday’s county council workshop, Fitzwater presented three bills drafted to target human trafficking in the county.
“These three bills that we work shopped today were all recommendations from the task force report,” shared Fitzwater.
The first bill targets bodywork establishments like parlors offering acupressure and reflexology “bodyworks”. It would define bodywork into the Frederick County code.
The second bill concerns landlords and makes it unlawful for them to knowingly do business with anyone involved in sex trafficking or prostitution.
The third bill would require hotels and motels to annually certify all employees to spot the signs and signals of human trafficking.
“[These bills] were the ones that we felt made the most sense for Frederick county based on the feedback that we were getting from law enforcement, the state’s attorney’s office, health care providers and others who are working with potential victims of human trafficking,” said Fitzwater.
Other county council members were able to raise their concerns about each of the bills and changes were discussed for each.
Fitzwater says the bills will be officially introduced on September 25 and public hearing will be held October 16th at 7 pm. The bills will go into effect 60 days after they are signed.