Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)


David Ojo


Human Trafficking, Alabama, Law Enforcement Officers, Victims, Sex Trafficking, Labor Trafficking, Vulnerability, Training, Resources


Philosophy | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Human trafficking (HT) is a heinous crime that has gained international attention. Millions of people (specifically young girls and women) are affected by prostitution and sexual exploitation, the most common forms of human trafficking. Currently, anti-trafficking law enforcement agencies are struggling to respond to human trafficking due to the lack of data, the hidden nature of the crime, the current service providers, and the strategies of human trafficking task forces. The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study will be to understand better the challenges of law enforcement officers and the impact of law enforcement officers in combatting human trafficking. The goals of the study are threefold: (1) to illustrate the experiences in their own words, (2) to identify themes surrounding efforts to combat human trafficking, and (3) to better understand how law enforcement officers perceive the challenges they must endure. A transcendental phenomenology research design will be used to obtain a detailed description that provides the basis for the essences and meanings to emerge from the perspectives of the law enforcement officers. In this study, the researcher will conduct semi-structured open-ended interviews with ten local law enforcement officers in Alabama. The data will describe the lived experience of each of the ten officers. The transcendental phenomenological research design will also utilize Moustakas' processes: epoche, phenomenological reduction, imaginative variation, structural-textural, composite textural, and synthesis. The study’s findings will have implications for the criminal justice field and professional practice.