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Officials: As population increases in Racine County due to Foxconn, so will crime

Officials: As population increases in Racine County due to Foxconn, so will crime

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RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Racine County Board says the first phase of construction for Foxconn will begin soon, and it will stick around for a few years.

With the possible growth of 13,000 jobs and a population increase, Racine County is expecting the amount of drug and human trafficking related crimes to also increase.  

Racine County officials say it’s no surprise that with a population increase comes increased crime. They say drug dealers and human traffickers will take advantage of the rise in Foxconn construction workers to push their own agenda in this area.

County Board Supervisor, Eric Hillery, says he’s not pointing any blame on construction workers, but instead the amount of money coming into the area.

 “We’re not trying to label people especially in the construction field of being people who are going to cause problems, but I think it’s more or less the people who are going to be following those construction workers who have that disposable income,” said Hillery, who sits on Racine County’s Government Services Committee.

Human trafficking experts say buyers are typically male, college educated, middle-class and some are married. Many of them use apps or websites to find what they’re looking for.

“These websites are not dissimilar to the classic craigslist format. You know they’re going to be low-tech. There’s going to be a lot of pictures of girls in compromising positions, a lot of minors, a lot of things that the average person doesn’t want to see,” said Michelle Peterson, Executive Director of Fight to End Exploitation in Racine.

Peterson says the top three trafficking crimes are drugs, guns and human trafficking. All three go hand-in-hand.

“Human trafficking just surpassed guns as number two, so not only do they co-exist, but they can feed each other,” adds Peterson.

The correlation between rise in population and rise in crime isn’t a new discovery. The oil booms in North Dakota sent crime rates soaring, and Racine County hopes to learn from it.

“Situations that happened say in North Dakota with the oil fields where they saw an increase in crime and human trafficking because of their increase in construction gives us a heads up,” said Peterson.

“We’re looking into areas that have definitely had the economic growth like Tennessee and the Dakotas to kind of see what they’re doing to be proactive and preventative instead of being reactive,” Hillery says.

Hillery says the Sheriff’s Office has reached out to the county with requests to hire more deputies in the future. The Public Defender’s office has also been overwhelmed with the amount of cases, and Hillery says the county is working on coming up with creative solutions to address these needs.

You can report human trafficking here.

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