Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)


Jarrod S. Sadulski


Human Trafficking, Survey Research, Law Enforcement Training, Officer Confidence, Schema Theory


Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


No one knows the true extent of human trafficking in America today, yet law enforcement officers may encounter victims during routine assignments. There exists a growing body of research associated with law enforcement officers and human trafficking. However, few researchers have explored the connection between human trafficking training and officers’ ability to recognize human trafficking situations. Grounded in schema theory, this quantitative study surveys law enforcement officers in West Tennessee. Survey questions assess officers’ awareness of human trafficking generalities, their ability to recognize possible locations of human trafficking, and training related to human trafficking. Questions then describe potential human trafficking indicators to elicit officer responses. This study fills gaps in the existing literature by examining connections between officers’ training, assumptions, and ability to recognize human trafficking situations. A lack of human trafficking awareness and inappropriate officer responses are likely both associated with training deficits. With information identifying these deficits, law enforcement agencies and training organizations may better equip officers with the skills necessary to recognize human trafficking situations.