Tuesday, Dean C. Bryant, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI St. Louis Division, presented the 2012 Director's Community Leadership Award to Kimberly Ritter, of St. Charles, at a surprise ceremony. Ritter was honored for her efforts to protect children from sex trafficking.
As a senior account manager at based in Maplewood, Ritter uses the opportunity during meetings with hotel general managers to raise awareness about sex trafficking. Ritter first became aware of the problem four-and-a-half years ago when a client wanted to know if the hotel she was booking for them had a policy on sex trafficking.
Since that time, Ritter’s employer, Nix, initiated and signed the first-ever Meeting Planners Code of Conduct in January 2012. The company hopes to encourage industry peers and competitors to join them in addressing the issue at every hotel where they do business.
Violent crimes against children, to include child sex trafficking, are among the top priorities for the FBI. Bryant said, “Raising awareness goes a long way to preventing sex trafficking or any crime. By challenging their industry peers to raise awareness, Ritter and Nix are creating a force multiplier that could eventually have a nationwide impact.”
Tuesday's ceremony was held at the Millennium Hotel-St. Louis, the first hotel in St. Louis to sign an international code of conduct. By signing the code, the hotel vows to educate employees on how to spot red flags and what action to take in cases of sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking is distinct from prostitution. With sex trafficking, a person is tricked into prostitution by force, fraud, or coercion. Victims are often controlled mentally, physically, or with drugs to ensure they do not escape. With minors, force does not have to be proven for prosecution. It is automatically considered sex trafficking when minors are involved.
On April 5, 2013, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III will personally present the award at a national ceremony in Washington, D.C. to all honorees selected by each of the 56 FBI field offices.
The above was submitted by a public affairs specialist of the FBI, St. Louis Division.