Law Enforcement

While both Minnesota law and federal law criminalize sex trafficking (Minn. Stat. 609.322), in Minnesota, engaging in prostitution (Minn. Stat. 609.324) – both for patrons and individuals in prostitution – is also a crime. This creates an “inherent conflict” for law enforcement agencies investigating sex trafficking cases.[1] Investigators on the frontlines work hard to identify and protect victims, but they are also obligated to protect public safety and enforce the law.

While the Law Enforcement Fact Sheet focuses on the efforts in the Twin Cities metro area, Law Enforcement throughout the state are increasing training on this issue and capacity to rescue victims and arrest perpetrators. Please contact us to add an update for your department or community.

Since 2005, Minnesota has been experiencing a paradigm shift, redefining the way law enforcement approaches victims of prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation.  These methods have resulted in the decriminalization of sexually exploited women through the use of diversion, a partnered approach to investigation of sex trafficking, the engagement of victims in the investigation and successful prosecution of traffickers, and a concentrated effort to combat the demand that drives the market for sex trafficking victims. St. Paul and Minneapolis have taken the lead to develop and implement innovative strategies to combatting sex trafficking and are currently the only two law enforcement agencies in the state with dedicated human trafficking units.

St. Paul

The Saint Paul Police Department (SPPD) Gerald D. Vick Human Trafficking Task Force builds partnerships between community-based organizations, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders to develop a coordinated, victim-centered approach to address human trafficking.  Vick Task Force partners understand that the victim in a human trafficking case will provide the primary evidence through their testimony and that doing right by the victim is consistent with doing right by the case.

St. Paul Police Department & Gerald Vick Task ForceSergeant Ray Gainey


Minneapolis has instituted the convening of a “Cross-Disciplinary Case Management Team” for the investigation of juvenile sex trafficking cases.  Here, “cross-disciplinary case management” refers to the effective collaboration of a multi-jurisdictional working group, comprised of relevant representatives from Law Enforcement, Prosecution, Specialized Advocates, Social Workers, Child Protection, Probation, School Representation, etc., working together to address the entire scope of activities related to meeting a victim’s needs. These teams extend and enhance law enforcement’s ability to respond appropriately to threats to public safety, while utilizing a “Victim Partnered Approach” to investigating and prosecuting traffickers.

Minneapolis Police Department, Sergeant Grant Snyder

[1] Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment for the State of Minnesota, Advocates for Human Rights (Originally published September 2008; revised edition October 2008).