Stopping Human trafficking in a Texas Minute.

I’m Lady Justice. Thank you for listening, I’m always welcome to a healthy debate.

The 21st Century is a time where sex trafficking is a real fear. A time where predators can do vile things to your kids by using modern tech to befriend them. A time where every day you see people vanish without a trace. Advanced tracking technology could save lives.

A time where a healthy 25-year-old man with no history of odd behavior can leave his house one day, walk his dog, and no one will see again. It is every parent’s worst nightmare. There cannot be anything worse in this world than having a missing loved one. Even losing a child would be an unfathomable amount of pain, but not knowing where your child is, thinking about the horror they may be going through but still hoping they will come home alive is gut-wrenching agony. Ask anyone who is missing a loved one.

 

In recent weeks the Supreme court has ruled that the police cannot use phone pings or vehicle GPS tracking systems without a warrant. Meaning that not even the missing person’s phone can be checked without a warrant. To get a judge to sign off on the warrant, you have to prove sufficient cause. If the missing person is over the age of 18, then good luck with the authorities. The law hinders the investigation process significantly.

The first 48 hours are vital to a successful investigation process. It can mean the difference in bringing a loved one home alive or finding their bodies. It could be the difference in locating your child in a trafficking house in Baytown, Texas or your child finding themselves on a ship headed for South Africa.

Cell phone pings and vehicle GPS tracking systems are incredible tools that can aid in the investigation process. Mind you we are talking about the investigation, not prosecution that is an entirely different topic. However, the supreme court ruling completely ties their hands.

Organizations like Texas Equasearch that use private funding and volunteers to find missing people depend on these tools to be successful. They need some idea of what direction to search. Even if you have a suspect in question with a link to the missing person, that is not enough to secure a warrant.

Have we come to the point that we care more about protecting criminals privacy than we do about bringing people home? Don’t get me wrong I am all for the criminal justice system and the rules of the court. However, information gathered in an investigation does not mean admissibility in a court of law for prosecution.

These are two very different steps of the judicial process.

Yes, the police have to be careful how they obtain information because part of their investigation process is to build a case that the District Attorney can later use.

Private companies fall under different guidelines, they aren’t restricted in the same ways the police are. They aren’t there to build an airtight case; they are there to bring your loved ones home.

As a citizen, of course, I want my privacy protected, no I don’t want the government to have the power to start tracking me because they feel like it. It is a horrifying prospect of government monitoring its citizens without cause.

However, if I went missing, I’d want my family to have the ability to say do whatever it takes to find her. If I were a witness in a crime, I would gladly give the police access to my personal life if it helped an investigation, because I don’t or wouldn’t have anything to hide.

The Common Sense of it All

A Balance

We need to find a middle ground that allows an investigation to take place while respecting people’s privacy. If a person chooses to go missing, most of the time the family merely wants to know they are ok.  Thanks to social media often times the person will surface just to let them know they are ok. What is enough evidence to secure a warrant?

Does it take a violent crime scene for a judge to suspect foul play?

We as a society need to come to grips with one thing; we do not live in a 1950s Donna Reed sitcom. Those that wish to do us harm are not bound by any sense of fair play or rules. Your daughter who was walking home this afternoon could very well be tied up and aboard a freighter bound for the Middle East before you know anything amiss has happened.

A balance exists between public safety and civil rights; we need to find it. Privacy rights should not exist as a suicide note.

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