TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It's a bold move and a big crackdown on human trafficking in the state of Florida.
Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation Wednesday aimed at reducing human trafficking across the state.
The bill (HB 851) requires training for hotel and motel workers so they can better spot human trafficking, report it and potentially save victims.
Additionally, law enforcement and medical professionals will also be required to have more training in dealing with sex trafficking victims.
The 2019 bill was modified after it died last year in the Senate when Florida's hospitality industry pushed back.
Savannah Parvu shared her testimony in Tallahassee over two legislative sessions trying to get the bill passed. She was sold for sex in central Florida from the time she was 11-years-old. Parvu said her trafficker was her mom's drug dealer and he would take her to a hotel and have multiple men come in and out. There were even times Parvu's trafficker would arrange with the hotel staff to open up the door to let people in.
Now, seven years after the last time she was trafficked, Parvu has been part of the fight to make this crackdown a reality, even when consensual sex workers fought the legislation.
"So many people saw me but they didn’t know what was happening and I think if they were trained, somebody would have stepped in and helped me when I was younger," Parvu said after the bill was signed.
The law also requires a sex trafficking database consisting of buyers and sellers. If convicted, the offender's name would go into a database for five years. If they get caught again, their name will be in the database permanently.
Cpl. Alan Wilkett with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said, "Florida won" with this law. He believes by training hospitality workers about human trafficking, tens of thousands of people will be more aware and more likely to report the crime in the state of Florida.
Wilkett says the database will hold buyers more accountable rather than just a slap on a wrist with a misdemeanor charge. People might think twice knowing their name could end up on a database available to employers, landlords, and the general public.
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