Grassroots success: Truckers Against Trafficking making unique impact

By Sandi Soendker, Land Line editor-in-chief | Friday, December 02, 2016

Human trafficking is a massive global dilemma. Sex trafficking, specifically, has been reported in all 50 states, and the number of victims in the United States is estimated in the hundreds of thousands. Truckers Against Trafficking, a non-profit organization that works to mobilize the trucking industry to fight human trafficking, wraps up the year with an encouraging list of successes.

TAT is a grassroots activist organization self-described as a group that works to help professional truckers function as “front-line responders in the fight against human trafficking.” The group’s goals have been to saturate trucking and related industries with TAT materials. It’s more than raising awareness, it’s teaching the trucking industry how to recognize sex trafficking, what to do, and importantly – what not to do.

With informational material and free training, TAT has partnered with organizations like OOIDA, state trucking associations and a long list of motor carriers and industry suppliers. The group also has seen unprecedented success in partnering with law enforcement and government agencies to facilitate investigations.

“TAT is recognized by legislators, lawmakers, law enforcement, the anti-trafficking world, survivors and many others for applying its efforts on programs and in directions that yield results, for its ability to create partnerships that provide effective problem-solving and mobilization of more people and companies,” said TAT President Kendis Paris, “and for its commitment to creating models that can be replicated across the transportation industry and into other industries.”

In the seven years TAT has existed, it has built an army of supporters that it credits for the increased “effectiveness in assisting law enforcement in realizing the arrest of perpetrators and the recovery of victims.”

According to TAT’s December newsletter, results include:

  • More than 280,000 trucking industry members have been registered as “TAT Trained” on its website. This is up from 174,761 at the end of 2015.
  • Truckers have now made 1,534 calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, resulting in 471 potential cases, involving 1,033 victims.
  • TAT's survivor-leader Beth Jacobs has trained law enforcement at all of TAT’s coalition builds, and in enhanced trainings in Ohio, North Carolina, Kansas and Maine. She is also leading TAT's charge alongside the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators to help survivors obtain driver's licenses.
  • In 2016, TAT held nine coalition builds across the nation including strategic meetings between law enforcement and industry stakeholders designed to close loopholes to traffickers at a local level.
  • In 2016, the Freedom Drivers Project attended 37 events in 21 states, traveling 32,044 miles, leaving more than 960,000 impressions along the way. More than 9,300 toured the exhibit this year alone, more than 20,000 since it debuted in August 2014.
  • 27 states have adopted the Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement model in part or in whole.
  • In Ohio, TAT training is now mandated for all entry-level CDL holders. Multiple states are also looking at implementing this mandate.
  • TAT’s Shipping Partners Program has grown this year through new relationships with Costco, Hewlett Packard and Praxair.
  • All 50 state trucking associations are now TAT partners.
  • TAT presented its Harriet Tubman Award to two TA/Petro employees in Jessup, Md., whose “observations, quick thinking and follow-up call to police” last year helped law enforcement in Howard County arrest three traffickers and recover six of the 12 women they were forcibly prostituting.
  • After being approached by representatives of the new Mexican human trafficking hotline, TAT has now added that hotline number to its wallet cards for drivers who may cross the border between the United States and Mexico as part of their jobs.
  • Facebook followers as of mid-November were 144,003; Twitter 30,216; and Instagram 6,445.

More information about the organization can be found at truckersagainsttrafficking.org.

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