David Lorenzen
David Lorenzen

October 25, 2018

Growing up in Le Mars, David Lorenzen was always interested in law enforcement.

He entered the field at the age of 21 and never looked back.

Now, after 40 years in law enforcement, Lorenzen, a motor vehicle enforcement chief for Iowa’s Department of Transportation, has been appointed by Elaine Chao, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, to serve on a new, national advisory committee on human trafficking. Lorenzen is one of 15 individuals appointed to the committee, which is made up of members of trafficking advocacy organizations, law-enforcement and transportation sectors. Its goal is to craft strategies to identify, report and combat human trafficking, in part by recommending actions state and local leaders can take, according to a news release. The Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act prompted its creation.

“For the last five years, the motor vehicle department has been actively involved in creating an awareness of letting folks know that human trafficking does occur in our state,” said Lorenzen, who is based in the Des Moines area, in a telephone interview. “One thing is folks think it is more of a metro thing.”

In Iowa, two of the largest interstates -— Interstate Highways 80 and 35 — funnel in a large portion of the human-trafficking cases seen throughout the state, Lorenzen said.

Human trafficking occurs at the Iowa State Fair, the Farm Progress Show, the Drake Relays and more, he said.

For the past few years, Lorenzen has been working with Truckers Against Trafficking, a Colorado-based organization that works to educate and equip truck drivers and busing industries about the signs of human trafficking.

“With Truckers Against Trafficking, it’s a very effective program where we train truck drivers what to look for,” Lorenzen said. “We ask them to call the human trafficking hotline, and they can report that anonymously.”

In the U.S., Lorenzen said, there are about 3.5 million commercial vehicles out every day. That’s a lot more eyes and ears that can be added to what law enforcement has on the road.

So far, working with commercial drivers in Iowa has been positive for the DOT, Lorenzen said.

“The model has proved successful,” he said. “The calls are increasing, which is disturbing, but it’s positive.”

Around the world, Lorenzen said, 21 million people are trafficked annually. The industry is worth $150 billion.

“We hear stories of people trafficking their own children,” he said. “There is no geographic boundaries, no race, no economic status that sets the boundaries on this.”

Lorenzen said a 14-year-old girl was found trafficked in Hills, an eastern Iowa city with a population of 703 at the 2010 census. If it can happen in Hills, it can happen anywhere, he said.

Carroll is no different than any place else,” he said. “I hear stories from all over the country.”