Since 2009, the group Truckers Against Trafficking has been working tirelessly to combat human trafficking in the United States.
On Wednesday, Feb. 22, TAT was recognized with a Congressional Recognition award by the office of U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-NV, for their efforts to put an end to human trafficking in his home state through a newly formed state coalition of trucking industry officials.
“It is very encouraging to see the coalition forming in Nevada to combat human trafficking with the trucking industry at the helm,” said Kendis Paris, TAT’s national director. “Having U.S. Rep. Heck’s office recognize the effort, not only shows that this is the right thing to do, but that it’s also good for the image of the trucking industry as it takes a proactive response to this issue.”
Nevada Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, has also introduced legislation aimed at strengthening the state’s human trafficking laws.
Paris told Land Line on Monday, Feb. 27, that their goal in 2012 is to develop relationships with “as many members of the law enforcement community as possible in order to determine how best TAT can partner and work with them to further human trafficking investigations.”
She said their goal in 2012 is to increase the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s contact list “with as many law enforcement personnel that are willing to join.”
“The more officers on that list who have received human trafficking training, the better the results will be when they arrive on the scene,” Paris said.
According to TAT’s 2011 annual report, the group distributed 180,000 to 200,000 wallet cards and more than 7,000 training DVDs.
The national hotline, operated by the Polaris Project, received 185 calls from truckers reporting possible human trafficking instances in 2011. The national hotline number is 888-373-7888.
“At times, certain tips come directly to us and we have been able to hand those over to law enforcement, via our state coalition partners. And as a result, arrests have been made,” Paris said.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which has more than 150,000 members nationwide, has TAT wallet cards available. Some members visiting OOIDA’s HQ have asked for stacks of them to hand out to other drivers they meet out on the road.
TAT has also partnered with the major truck stop chains to train their employees to be on the lookout for signs of human trafficking, especially sex trafficking.
The Department of Justice estimates that between 100,000 to 300,000 of America’s young people are placed at risk in the sex-for-sale industry every year.