October 18, 2018

Recently, there has been conversation and concern about the existence of human trafficking in the Big Rapids and Ferris State University community. Anything that threatens either community is of great concern to the Department of Public Safety. As a result of these concerns, I felt that a communication was necessary to discuss the nature of Human Trafficking and concerns that may exist in our community.

Currently, there are no Human Trafficking investigations being conducted in the Mecosta County area. There have been some concerns expressed by students regarding their fear of being followed or kidnapped and forced into Human Trafficking. A discussion about the nature of this crime is important.

Although there are never any exclusive rules regarding any crime, the Human Trafficking crime is most predictable. The predators who commit these horrific crimes depend on victims who depend on them. Very typically, victims of this crime are runaways, homeless, or young women who are suffering from some addiction. Their need for shelter, food, or drugs can be exploited by criminals who will unofficially indenture them and often get them involved with sexual activity in exchange for the things that they need to survive.

As a result of the typical nature of the relationship between a victim and the Human Trafficker, it is very rare that someone is kidnapped, and forced into this type of illegal activity. There have not been any kidnapping or attempted kidnappings in the county, but we recommend that everyone remain vigilant and be aware of their surroundings regardless of their location.

If possible, travel or shop with a friend. When you are in public, take off the headphones, and put your phone in your pocket; don’t shut out your two most valuable senses, sight and sound. Do not handle cash where others may observe that you have cash on hand. When you are walking to your car, have your car keys in your hand. If you ever feel as if you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station, and if the car following continues, call 911 for an officer to respond.

The Ferris State University campus and the Big Rapids community is a safe place and all police agencies in the area work hard to continue to make this a safe place to get an education and visit.

For further information, call the Department of Public Safety's non-emergency number at (231) 591-5000.

Bruce W. Borkovich
Director, Department of Public Safety
Ferris State University