MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - When the Super Bowl comes to town in February, authorities are worried it could bring a spike in sex trafficking along with it.
Law enforcement has a strategy to combat these crimes during the days leading up to the big game.
“That’s what we're really talking about here is a sizable increase in demand,” said Sgt. Grant Synder, who heads the Minneapolis police sex trafficking unit.
Sgt. Synder was among those from Minneapolis Police Department who went to Houston's Super Bowl in February to learn what they were doing. But he was clear in Minnesota, their approach would be different.
“One of the things I do want to talk about is this idea of undercover operations and I want to be very, very clear that we are not going to put people, like I've seen in the last six Super Bowls, where the objective is to get an offer - to get an offer of sex for money, it's to satisfy the elements of the crime - we're not going to do that,” he said.
With Super Bowl 52, it's expected the influx of people brings an influx of demand, but not at the street level, as in other cities. Rather, the focus is online. Police will be placing fake ads, posing as sellers and aggressively busting the buyers and the traffickers.
The other focus, is what they call recovery, which is to help women get out of the sex trade. They believe this approach could become the model.
“So with the Super Bowl committee, we are recording everything and are hiring researchers and evaluators to make sure this can be repeated in other places that the Super Bowl goes,” said Lulete Mola of the Women's Foundation of Minnesota.
The groups involved in the Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Committee told the City Council this has helped them work together even better.
“With the Super Bowl there's further opportunity to partner and bring awareness and hopefully increase our services because we need them today,” said Beth Holger-Ambrose, the executive director of The Link.
“Our message to anyone who thinks they can come for the Super Bowl and engage in sex trafficking is you will be caught, you will be prosecuted, you will be sorry, stay home,” said Minneapolis Councilwoman Linea Palmisano.