Stan Clouse Receives 2018 Healthy Community Awards Leadership Award

June 04, 2018

It’s not a comfortable topic, but one that Nebraska is addressing anyway—with the help of a Kearney leader.

"Human trafficking is happening everywhere, including in our communities. It’s not something we think happens, but it’s real and it’s here," said Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse.

When former Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman was appointing members to the Task Force on Human Trafficking in 2012, the governor said he wanted an elected official who could run the group and the meetings efficiently. Stan Clouse fit the bill.

"There are phenomenal people serving on the task force who have seen many things first hand," Clouse said. "It was my role to keep the direction of the task force on task."

For his efforts with the task force, Stan Clouse of Kearney has been selected to receive the 2018 Healthy Community Leadership award sponsored by CHI Health Good Samaritan. The Leadership Award is presented to the group or individual who has shown outstanding leadership in the community by preventing, promoting or protecting health issues.

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, human trafficking is defined as modern-day slavery in which people profit from exploiting others through force, fraud, coercion or deception. The Nebraska Family Alliance noted that the U.S. government has identified human trafficking as the fastest growing criminal industry globally, tied with illegal arms trade at second, with the drug trade in first place.

The governor’s task force had three primary objectives: to identify the extent of human trafficking in Nebraska; to train law enforcement, attorneys, and others to recognize human trafficking; and to increase public awareness.

The task force has been very productive in its short existence. The group completed a survey to assess trafficking in Nebraska, trained law enforcement, and hotel staff and distributed educational posters to rest areas, truck stops, and many other facilities throughout the state.

"Overall, this has been a very productive and very effective group," Clouse said.

"When I first joined the task force, I was blown away by everything that is happening right here (in Nebraska)," said Clouse. "When my hometown of Kearney was noted as having victims, it hit home. We think it just happens in bigger cities, but it is everywhere, especially around the interstate corridor. It happens in small towns, too, it’s just not front page all of the time."

The task force has provided information from the survey to the legislature and, because of the work of the task force, changes are happening to make penalties and sentences tougher.

Clouse encourages everyone to pay attention, educate yourself on what trafficking is and what it looks like, and to report anything that doesn’t seem normal or doesn’t feel right.

To learn more about human trafficking efforts or to make a report, contact your local law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at (888) 373-7888.