Trucking Groups Boost Effort to Fight Sex Trafficking
Two trucking associations and the Kansas attorney general have teamed up to prevent sex trafficking on the state’s highways, extending a program that is already assisting law enforcement in other states.
The Kansas Motor Carriers Association (KMCA) and the state’s attorney general have partnered with the national group Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) to provide training enabling Kansas truckers to effectively report potential cases of sex trafficking.
The training will teach truckers how to identify potential trafficking cases so they are comfortable reporting what they see.
Truckers are “the eyes and ears on the highways 24/7, 365,” said KMCA Executive Director Tom Whitaker. “We are in the truck stops, we are in the rest areas where trafficking sometimes takes place.”
TAT will provide training videos and resources to KMCA, which will distribute them to their members and representatives of nonmember trucking companies who visit its office for commercial vehicle registrations. The AG’s office will use the resources to train law enforcement and government personnel. Recipients of the training will include trucking companies, Kansas highway patrol officers, and travel plaza, truck stop, and rest stop owners.
Individuals who complete training will receive a wallet card with the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline number, which forwards calls on to law enforcement. Last year, the hotline received 1,300 calls, resulting in the identification of 415 likely cases of sex trafficking that involved 723 victims, including 241 minors, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Similar partnerships between TAT and trucking groups already exist in other states, and the organization hopes to create them throughout the U.S. as “trafficking is happening in every state,” said TAT’s Helen Van Dam. Kansas is currently reviewing a similar program in Iowa called the Iowa MVE Model.
Van Dam is the director of TAT’s Freedom Drivers Project, a mobile exhibit set up in a renovated show trailer presenting sex trafficking survivors’ stories, artifacts from cases, evidence of trafficking in the U.S., video stories from truckers involved in reporting cases, and information on how to get involved in the cause.
The exhibit visits trucking companies and trucking and community events to share information about how to spot and report possible trafficking situations.
“With the Freedom Drivers Project, we target mainly the trucking industry, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity for us to share the story of what the trucking industry is doing with members of the general public across the United States,” Van Dam said.
She explained that truckers are in a strategic position to report sex trafficking because they are in locations where it’s happening and are often approached to purchase services.
“They’re another set of eyes and ears for law enforcement to be able to report potential cases because truck drivers are going to be in locations as part of their everyday jobs where they could come into contact with a potential victim of trafficking,” she said.