SACRAMENTO – The Assembly Public Safety Committee voted to approve Assemblywoman Shannon Grove’s anti-human trafficking bill this afternoon with the help of testimony from several Kern County witnesses. Bakersfield Police Department Sgt. Jeff Burdick, Magdalene Hope president and founder Doug Bennett, as well as several human trafficking victims waited over four hours before being allowed to testify at the Capitol hearing. In the end, AB 2188 passed with a 4 to 3 vote.
The new law would give law enforcement increased authority to arrest adults for soliciting sex from minors. The idea for the bill came from Bakersfield Police Department officials who said the change would help them in their efforts to combat the human trafficking problem in Kern County.
“I’m so glad committee members decided to stand with the 14-year-old victims of human trafficking, and not with those buying our children for sex,” said Assemblywoman Shannon Grove. “Our law enforcement officials need the ability to arrest adults that are combing our streets looking for young teens they can purchase. This bill will help that happen.”
AB 2188 would allow law enforcement the authority to arrest any adult when there is probable cause to believe they solicited sex from a minor. Currently, law enforcement officials can only arrest an adult for soliciting sex from a minor if they witness the solicitation or if there is another witness to the crime.
The bill will now be scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee sometime within the next few weeks.
Full text of the bill can be read here.