Fargo TSA officer helps human trafficking victim escape danger

Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Officer Kjelik photo

Not even a year in her role as a TSA officer, Mikki Kjelvik is already being praised for courageously helping a victim of human trafficking.

Kjelvik was passing through the main lobby of Fargo, North Dakota’s Hector International Airport, returning to the checkpoint from a break when a distraught woman approached her.

The woman just arrived on a Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and told Kjelvik she was a human trafficking victim.

“I wanted to help her and take action quickly,” Kjelvik said.

Kjelvik ushered the woman to the airport’s information desk where an airport security officer for Allied Universal Security works. Kjelvik explained the situation to the Allied officer and asked the woman to wait with the security officer while she got help.

Knowing the passenger was safe, Kjelvik returned to the checkpoint and notified Supervisory TSA Officer Dave Mueller. Mueller was resolving another passenger screening situation at the time but alerted Supervisory TSA Officer Stephanie Butcher to handle the situation immediately.

Butcher notified Fargo Police Officer Brad Baer, who was on-duty at the checkpoint. Baer dispatched for additional Fargo police officers to come to the airport to assist.

Police then took control of the situation, and the victim was safely taken to an emergency shelter for women. 

Officer Kjelvik directs passenger photo
TSA Officer Mikki Kjelvik directs a passenger to step out of the Advanced Imaging Technology machine at Hector International Airport. (Photo by Steve Tupper)

Kjelvik, who joined TSA just eight months ago, credits key training sessions for helping her save the woman’s life from human trafficking.

“I knew what to do through training from [online] courses and [standard operating procedures],” Kjelvik said. “My on-the-job training coach also prepared me for how to handle this situation.”

TSA’s Human Trafficking Awareness course is mandatory for all new employees and reintroduced yearly for all officers. It teaches officers how to identify human trafficking indicators, understand when and how to get involved and to use their network.

TSA North Dakota’s Assistant Federal Security Director-Screening Jean Forand said Kjelvik’s fast and critical actions provided a means to an end for a true success story.   

“[Officer] Kjelvik took TSA's Blue Campaign to heart by showing compassion and calmly listening to the passenger to gather as much information as she could,” said Forand. “[Officer] Mikki Kjelvik's quick and decisive actions guaranteed the safety and security of a passenger in need, removed her from a dire and dangerous situation and is a perfect example of the goals and effectiveness of TSA's Blue Campaign.”

To learn more about indicators, ways to get involved, resources and DHS human trafficking response, please visit the DHS Blue Campaign website.

By Ariana Diaz, TSA Strategic Communications and Public Affairs