In an effort to combat the issues surrounding human trafficking, the Virginia Trucking Association has formed a partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking. The move comes shortly after a Virginia trucker tipped off authorities about a kidnapping and sexual abuse case that potentially saved a young woman’s life.
According to VTA President and CEO Dale Bennett, VTA, in coordination with Truckers Against Trafficking, will be reaching out to its members to inform them on what to look for in suspicious activity related to human trafficking. Educational materials provided by TAT will be available to VTA members. Drivers who have joined VTA will be instructed on what signs indicate that someone is being held against their will and the appropriate actions to take once spotted.
As part of the newly formed partnership, VTA will also be coordinating with authorities, including the Department of Transportation, Department of Motor Vehicles, and state and local police. Authorities working with VTA will provide a direct pipeline between the victim being reported by truckers and the help and services needed.
Like several other state associations and their respective law enforcement agencies, VTA has adopted TAT’s Iowa DOT Model, TAT Executive Director Kendis Paris told Land Line. The call-to-action template created by the Iowa Department of Transportation guides states and associations new to TAT through best practices to combat human trafficking with maximum efficiency.
Many truckers are already on high alert. Earlier this month, a truck driver near the Richmond area spotted a young woman looking through the curtain of an RV, Bennett told Land Line. The driver noticed that she was snatched away from the window, which prompted the trucker to call authorities based on suspicious behavior. Investigations revealed that the woman, who was from Iowa, was kidnapped by the couple in the RV, also from Iowa. They have since been charged with kidnapping with intent to defile, according to court documents.
Bennett hopes that the new partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking will give other drivers in Virginia the same tools needed that likely saved that young woman’s life.
“Our goal is to not have a world in the Commonwealth of Virginia that has our drivers and the voting public being exposed to this criminal activity,” Bennett told Land Line, “and to send a strong message that our industry will not stand by and let these things happen in our presence.”
VTA joins the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and more than 100 companies registered with Truckers Against Trafficking, including 32 other state trucking associations and more than 100,000 individual trained employees. Individual drivers and companies can register by going to TAT’S website and clicking “Trained.”
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