Human trafficking is one of the most serious crimes we face in our daily lives. The scariest part? We may not even notice it existing in our daily lives. Missouri, the state ranking ninth in the nation for reports submitted to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2021, is clearly no stranger to human trafficking. In a way, this makes sense given their location being so central to the whole country. Luckily, the people in charge have decided that this is simply unacceptable and are making leaps and bounds to combat this 21st century plague. the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD), the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) have enlisted the help of the trucking industry to raise awareness and educate people on the signs of human trafficking.
Truckers: An Unrivaled Force
Perpetrators of human trafficking have been known to use commercial vehicles to transport their victims, making truckers key partners in the fight against this crime. “It’s really a force multiplier when you think about it,” says Jake Elovirta, director of enforcement programs with the CVSA. Having this many eyes out there has never been possible, until now. By sharing awareness, the drivers who make their livings traveling the roadways of Missouri are able to work as a unified force for good. Elovirta went on to emphasize that this problem is bigger than just Missouri, “A lot of traffickers are traveling on our interstate and major state highways from different cities around the country.” It’s going to take more than one state to destroy this problem at its root.
Educational Efforts Make an Impact
This is only the second year that the CVSA has participated in this type of awareness campaign. Despite this, Elovirta notes, the educational efforts have already made a noticeable impact. One great example of how a little can go such a long way in these efforts is taking place at vehicle inspection points. They began providing vehicle inspectors with examples and the basic groundwork for asking the right questions to catch these traffickers. These questions have already lead to the recovery of runaways who otherwise would have slipped into the shadowy underbelly that is human trafficking. Talk about a major return on investment.
So… How You Can I Help?
The first and best step is to get educated. We will be publishing an article on some of the tell tale signs to look for to help you identify any potential human trafficking you could come across out on the road. The Department of Homeland Security has some great information. Beyond that, a qick search will turn up tons of other resources online you can access freely. If you are a victim or have any reason to suspect human trafficking is occurring, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or simply text 233733. Together, we can make a difference in the fight against human trafficking.
Stay Safe Out There!
– The Optimum Logistic Team