Security upped for NFL Draft: Combatting human trafficking, crime during event

DETROIT (FOX 2) - With approximately 300,000 people expected in downtown Detroit for this week’s NFL Draft, security will be tight.

DPD teams up with FBI, hotels to combat human trafficking during NFL Draft

Police will be on the lookout for crimes that are not immediately obvious, like human trafficking – something experts say tends to happen more during events that draw large crowds.

"We will be very vigilant in our actions in being able to identify any type of this behavior," said Detroit Police Commander Rebecca McCay.

McCay handles organized crime for the Detroit Police Department. Her team has worked with staffers at numerous Detroit hotels in recent weeks, training them to spot any sign of human trafficking.

In addition to that, DPD is working along with the FBI.

McCay described what and who they will be looking out for.

"Individuals who pay for cash for everything, individuals who are booking multiple rooms that are adjoining, at the end of a hallway far from elevators, individuals who are coming and going from a particular hotel room –mostly men– knowing that there’s a young lady in that room. Those are some of the things that we advise people to look out for," she said.

"Michigan tends to rank between five and seven, we’re always in the top 10 nationally for human trafficking," said Attorney Tracey Cooley with the Sparrow Freedom Project.

Cooley said human trafficking is very common in Michigan, even without a big event being hosted here.

The Sparrow Freedom Project is dedicated to helping survivors.

"A lot of them are dealing with addiction issues, so we want to get them into rehab," Cooley said. "We want to be able to connect them to therapy, connect them to different services that they need."

DPD shared some key resources for those who find themselves in a potential human trafficking situation:

<div>Resources for human trafficking prevention, provided by Detroit police.</div>
Resources for human trafficking prevention, provided by Detroit police.

Commander McCay said some people don’t even realize they’re being trafficked in the first place. She says it doesn’t always involve sex either.

"It can be a service, such as you are cleaning my house and I’m giving you food to clean my house, or it’s anything that they’re being forced to do that they don’t want to do. So, it can be any variety of things," McCay said.

Security preparations

Detroit Police Chief James White, and Deputy Chief Franklin Hayes said the security preparations for the draft have been a year and a half in the making,

"I don’t think the time could be better to have a draft in Detroit right now," White said. "A lot of people want to see Detroit, haven’t seen it in a long time. There is a lot to see here, so we are anticipating some big numbers."

White estimates there will be about 100,000 football fans from Michigan at the event. But most attendees will be from out of town.

"We keep a running playbook, for lack of a better term, where we're taking lessons learned from how we we've deployed previously," Hayes said.

DPD traveled to Kansas City, where the NFL Draft was last year to see what worked, and what didn’t.

"There's things you’re gonna see that are going to be very obvious to you from a security standpoint, but there’s going to be a tremendous number of things you won’t see – everything from undercover officers to those officers that we have strategically placed throughout downtown, around the event footprint, in a football jersey, that you will not know – they will be cheering like everybody else, but they will be providing intelligence to us," White said.

That intelligence then flows to the crime intelligence unit housed at the Detroit police headquarters.

Newly promoted Captain Erica Frederick is in charge of the real-time crime monitoring mothership.

"As you can see, we have several camera-access that were monitoring live, in real time, so we can have a view of what’s going on," she said.

Federal and state law enforcement are hubbed her too come draft time.

Big events mean the potential of real threats, as seen most recently at the Kansas City Chiefs Superbowl parade in February, where 22 people were shot, and one woman was killed.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will be bringing in eight additional canine teams to work the draft – manning check points, and sweeping the crowd for danger.

The dogs have been trained to detect explosives, guns and ammunition. The agency specifically chooses friendly-faced labs to be social in crowds, like the NFL Draft, but with a very serious job to do.

"They’re simply amazing and I’m proud of it," said George Goodman, a 37-year veteran with the ATF. "It’s pretty cool."