Class sheds light on what is believed to be a growing problem in Central Georgia
Community members and Macon law enforcement officials attend a class at the Macon Police Department Training Center on Monday to learn more about the sexual exploitation of children and sex trafficking in Middle Georgia.
"It's something that we are finding out that we're having a problem with here in Macon and we really don't know how to deal with it" Sergeant Richard Senter of the Macon Police Department said.
About 20 people listened to Senior Assistant District Attorney David Cooke and Sergeant Robert Peterson from the Atlanta Police Department educated about sexual exploitation of children and trafficking in the region.
"I came here because a number of members in the community asked for this to happen,” Cooke said. “They talked with local law enforcement, they recognized that sex trafficking is a serious problem here in Macon."
Officials from the Macon Police Department wanted to be trained on the issue and learn how to tackle this growing problem.
"We're just not equipped to handle it,” Cooke said. “We don't know what to do. And they also recognize that the prosecutors here weren't really equipped on how to handle these cases.”
Cooke said there hasn't been a sex trafficking indictment in years. Due to that fact he says that invites the activity to the area.
"They know that they're not being prosecuted so they're here,” he said."I recognize that child sex trafficking here is just out of control, particularly sex trafficking in massage parlors is rapid."
Sergeant Senter said he knows people come to Macon to visit the spas.
"Friends of ours that are in the military talk about that,” he said. “They come all the way from Atlanta to Macon to the massage parlors. I know a lot of those women are human trafficked at least we think that they are."
However, Senter adds that attending classes will further educate himself and others of child sexual exploitation and trafficking in Macon and hopefully end it.
"Being able to take a class like this and knowing what to look for is the first step in addressing the problem"
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Atlanta ranks as a top destination for trafficking with more than three hundred girls moving through the region each month.
Cooke said trafficking in the area won’t stop unless there are prosecutions.