#minorsextrafficking | Appleton Police Chief talks human trafficking, increase in mental health calls | WFRV Local 5

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Appleton Police Chief Todd Thomas joined Local 5 and discussed multiple topics including Human Trafficking Prevention Month and the department’s Toy Ride-Along Program.

Thomas said that Human Trafficking Prevention Month is in Jan. and they take the time to talk about the issue throughout the month. He also brought up that this issue is happening in every county.

One of the signs of human trafficking, according to Thomas, is they tend to target vulnerable people. Normally that means runaways, those with family issues or substance abuse issues.

The Appleton Police Department will be hosting a documentary about sex trafficking of children in Wisconsin on Jan. 17 at 1 p.m. and Jan. 28 at 10 a.m. More information about how to watch the documentary can be found on their Facebook page. The documentary is called ‘It Happens Here’.

Thomas also talked about a ‘dramatic’ increase in mental health calls. There was a reportedly 72% increase in mental health calls in 2021 when compared to 2020.

In addition to mental health calls, Thomas said there was a spike in traffic offenses. The department reportedly focused their attention on this and citations also increased.

The Appleton Police Department also hosted its Toy Ride-Along program. The program is with the Parks and Recreation department. Kids send toys to the department, and that toy gets to spend a day with an officer. The department tries to have a lot of fun with it, and Thomas said that a Buzz Lightyear toy helped tag along with a drone to get some aerial footage.

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