BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — The Bismarck Police Department released its annual report showing a 50% drop in human trafficking last year compared to 2020.

With back-to-school around the corner, we spoke with Morton County’s Sheriff’s Office on how they intend to keep kids safe this year.

In past reports, Bismarck police said the numbers may be low, but human trafficking is still happening, they’re simply being charged for the crime elsewhere.

Friday, KX News spoke with Deputy Tomlinson from Morton County, who says the issue is all over our state.

“I mean unfortunately human trafficking is everywhere in the country and even in the Bismarck area I’ve had to deal with children who have been involved with human trafficking and just listening to their stories is pretty horrific,” Deputy Tomlinson said.

But Deputy Tomlinson says Morton County is prepared.

“I think as an agency we’re going to focus on just being out there on patrol, being a lot more visible during school bus routes and in the morning and in the afternoon and just spreading the word on being safe,” said Deputy Tomlinson.

The biggest goal for law enforcement is to stress the importance of being aware of their surroundings.

Deputy Tomlinson says parents should have open conversations and make safety plans with their little ones.

“Looking around at different vehicles and stuff that might be out of place that’s not normal that you would see and just being cognizant of your surroundings. Our second step would be not to walk alone. If you’re out for a walk or if you have siblings or family members, take them with your friends. There’s always strength in numbers but stay in public areas. Don’t drift off in those areas where you’re not familiar with,” Deputy Tomlinson told us.

Deputy Tomlinson says he is a husband and father himself, and to know situations like trafficking and kidnapping exist in our community is quite terrifying.

“For me having my own children and being in schools and talking about safety and different topics that are involving safety, I always tell them one always listen to your teachers and always be aware of your surroundings,” said the Deputy.

He says if kids follow these steps, then they will be safe and feel safe.

Deputy Tomlinson says if you see something, or hear something, say something.

Teach your kids that as well.

It can help keep you and your community safe.