Wisconsin bill calls on new truckers to help combat trafficking

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, October 30, 2017

A new effort at the Wisconsin statehouse would add the state to the growing list of states across the country to call on professional drivers to help curb human trafficking.

Sex trafficking is described as one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world, generating revenue of more than $32 billion annually. It’s estimated that more than 20 million people are being trafficked worldwide. In the U.S., victims are commonly transported along the interstate highway system.

The Wisconsin legislation would mandate prospective truck drivers receive training on trafficking prevention. Specifically, a course would be incorporated into driver training for individuals applying for a Wisconsin commercial driver’s license.

The course would teach students how to identify and report trafficking.

Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, and Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, told the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee during a recent hearing on the bill that the state has “an unfortunate and appalling distinction” as a national human trafficking hub.

“Given that truck drivers are literally where the rubber meets the road where human trafficking occurs along our highways, they can and do play a critical role in identifying and preventing traffickers who create victims through the exploitation of our transportation system,” Johnson testified.

“Truck drivers are on the front line,” Kleefisch added.

The legislation, AB540, awaits additional consideration. The Senate version, SB444, is in the Senate Universities and Technical Colleges Committee.

In addition to Wisconsin, state officials nationwide have been busy in recent years acting to combat sex trafficking. At least 28 states, and Washington, D.C., have adopted at least in part a statewide model created by the Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement/Department of Transportation to use weigh stations, ports of entry, rest stops and state patrols to get the word out about trafficking.

In July 2016 Ohio became the first state to implement mandatory training via Truckers Against Trafficking.

TAT is a nonprofit organization that educates trucking and travel plaza industry members on domestic sex trafficking. The group touts 300,000 trucking industry members registered as TAT-trained through their website.

All new commercial drivers in Ohio are provided a one-hour training program. Every driver issued a CDL in the state is also given a TAT wallet card that contains information on how to report a tip to law enforcement when suspecting human trafficking activities.

Anyone who suspects human trafficking is taking place anywhere around the country can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888 and report what they know.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Wisconsin, click here.



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