Michelle Southern reporting.
Case data has recently been released on the number of human trafficking reports received in Louisiana in 2016 and it shows a significant increase. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 104 cases of human trafficking were called in last year, compared to 75 in 2015.
State Police Col Mike Edmonson credits a strong awareness campaign.
"What I try to build with law enforcement and State Police is the ability for these victims to trust us," said Edmonson. "Because when they trust us, they will listen to us."
Edmonson says getting victims to come forward begins with compassion and not treating them like criminals.
"We are here to help. We are the person grabbing the hand and letting them know that you don't have to do the things you're doing," said Edmonson.
The Polaris data indicates that more victims than ever are reaching out for help. Of the more than 100 cases reported in Louisiana last year, 74 were cases of sex trafficking and 21 of labor trafficking.
Edmonson says he's talked to victims who felt like this was the only life that they were going to ever have.
"When they get rescued, we can show them that we can affect their quality of life, show them that they can be part of society in an effective manner," said Edmonson. "That she can earn her money and doesn't have to give it to somebody else."
Louisiana ranked 20th in the nation for the most human trafficking cases reported in 2016. California topped the list with 1323 calls last year.