Continuing concerns about human trafficking and the fact that it’s the week of the Super Bowl — called the largest human trafficking event in the country — has the Ohio Highway Patrol publicizing a special enforcement campaign.
The state patrol is partnering with Truckers Against Trafficking to ensure that trucking schools in the Buckeye State be required to provide one hour of awareness training in human trafficking for students obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License for the first time.
TAT is a national nonprofit, based in Colorado, created “to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and travel plaza industry to combat domestic sex trafficking.”
Sgt. Vincent Shirey, state patrol public information officer, told News Center 7’s Natalie Jovonovich, “We’ve actually had confirmed cases where truckers have seen that type of activity afoot in a truck stop … and we’ve been able to intercept human trafficking cases.”
In 2015, Ohio law enforcement agencies reported 102 human trafficking investigations, which led to 104 arrests, 33 prosecutions and the identification of 203 potential victims, according to the state patrol.
The state patrol is working with TAT and trucking schools throughout Ohio because truck stops are one of the leading areas where sex trafficking occurs, Shirey said.
“You keep an eye out for the different people that don’t look like they belong in a truck stop,” David Barrett, a trucker from Alabama, told Jovonovich. “They may want to get out of it, but they don’t know how to get out of it.”
Beginning in July, new drivers (those getting their CDL for the first time) will receive awareness training and current truckers will get a pamphlet about human trafficking.
Meantime, Shirey said the state patrol is urging truckers — or anyone else — to report trafficking tips by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline Resource Center, at 888-373-7888 — 24 hours a day, seven days a week — or text BeFree to 233733.
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