CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY – A measure that would help law enforcement catch human traffickers with more success cleared the House floor last week on a unanimous vote.
House Bill 1006, by state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, would authorize the use of wiretaps to investigate human trafficking for labor or commercial sex, the pandering of humans for sex and for the investigation of the prostitution of a child.
“This bill will help law enforcement obtain convictions without having to rely on victims – who are often children – to testify in court,” said Kern, R-Oklahoma City. “Too often, these criminals escape conviction because their victims are terrified to testify in court against them. Having the ability to wiretap conversations between the victim and his or her trafficker will reveal the true nature of the relationship, the threats the victim is subjected to and who other traffickers are and what they are planning.”
Kern noted that wiretapping is typically a last resort effort by law enforcement due to the complex process required to obtain a warrant, which usually includes approval from the Attorney General’s Office and a state Supreme Court Justice.
“Wiretapping is common in narcotics cases and has helped law enforcement immensely,” said Kern. “If we are serious about protecting victims of sex abuse and trafficking, we need to give law enforcement all the tools they need to bring those criminals to justice.”
House Bill 1006 passed out of House by a vote 91-0 and will now be considered in the state Senate.