Chicago Hotels Prepare Workers To Spot Sex Trafficking

No Room For Trafficking sign at human trafficking awareness training for Chicago hotel workers
The Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association convened 450 hotel workers Friday to train them on how to identify human trafficking. Officials said there's an uptick in human trafficking in cities hosting major sports events. Chicago hosts NBA All-Star Weekend in mid-February. Natalie Moore / WBEZ News
No Room For Trafficking sign at human trafficking awareness training for Chicago hotel workers
The Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association convened 450 hotel workers Friday to train them on how to identify human trafficking. Officials said there's an uptick in human trafficking in cities hosting major sports events. Chicago hosts NBA All-Star Weekend in mid-February. Natalie Moore / WBEZ News

Chicago Hotels Prepare Workers To Spot Sex Trafficking

The Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association convened 450 hotel workers Friday to train them to spot and prevent human trafficking at their properties ahead of the NBA All-Star Game weekend in Chicago next month.

“All of these employees already take an online training each year to recognize the signs on how to detect and prevent human trafficking. But leading into the NBA All-Star Game, knowing it’s a high-visibility event, we wanted to refresh that training,” said Michael Jacobson, who heads the hotel association.

The campaign is called “No Room for Trafficking” and it was launched nationally last year. This is the first in-person training in Illinois. Jacobson said there’s an uptick in human trafficking in host cities during major sporting events.

“We’re really starting to hammer down on the warning signs,” Jacobson said. He said those signs are: someone walks in with few belongings for an overnight stay or a couple comes in and the man does all the talking and holds the woman’s purse.

“Does someone have control of their own life? And we’re trained on how to judge that,” Jacobson said.

Hotel workers are taught not to confront a suspected trafficker. Many hotels have individual policies with bringing in a manager. And hotels are encouraged to partner with law enforcement.

Natalie Moore is a reporter on WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities desk. You can follow her on Twitter at @natalieymoore.