In their July meeting, the Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) Board of Directors finalized the promotion of Esther Goetsch from interim to permanent executive director. Goetsch assumed TAT’s helm in March, replacing Kendis Paris, who led TAT from 2011-2022.
Goetsch has not only worked closely with all of the organization’s programs in her seven years on staff, but has represented TAT at numerous legislative and governmental meetings, both in the United States and in Canada. Additionally, she scaled the Coalition Build (CB) program into one of TAT’s key strategic activities, responsible for bringing together diverse partners across the United States and Canada to build networks and collaboration to close loopholes to traffickers.
TAT packed up, gassed up and headed out on a Walmart multi-state Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) tour! A TAT partner since 2014, Walmart initiated this tour to take the message deeper into the heart of the Walmart family. The elements inside the FDP are designed to help visitors understand the push and pull factors of why trafficking is prevalent in our society, feel more personally connected to survivors by hearing their stories and viewing actual artifacts, and most of all, to leave with the knowledge of what each individual can do to be a part of the solution.
The FDP rolled into eight states in May, June and July on the Walmart location tour, including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee and Illinois. In total, Walmart drivers hauled the FDP 4,027 miles, More than 1627 guests toured the exhibit, which spent an average of 11 hours at each event.
Walmart volunteers worked at the FDP at each location, earning credited hours through Walmart’s Volunteerism Always Pays (VAP) program, which recognizes and further supports their associate’s volunteer efforts by providing grants to eligible community organizations based on the hours volunteered. Walmart donated all VAP hours connected with this tour to TAT.
The idea for the extensive tour began with a plan to bring the FDP to select Walmart terminals, so drivers could tour the mobile exhibit while waiting to have their trailers loaded. From there, Walmart and TAT coordinated the addition of other locations, including several distribution centers connected to their truck terminals.
Additionally. Walmart designed a line of co-branded items to help raise money for TAT. With t-shirts donated by Xtreme Wear, the fundraiser raised $7,960 for TAT programs. Other available items for employees included pens with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (1-888-3737-888), a human trafficking information handout and flashlight keychains for anyone who showed they had the TAT app or downloaded it to their phones at the event.
Attendees praised the exhibit and commented on how it affected them personally. “It was very educational, but sad to know this does happen,” said Sam Schaffer, who toured the FDP at its Plainview, Texas, stop.
At the Bentonville, Arkansas, location, the heart of the Walmart family, Women in Trucking joined TAT and the FDP with WITney, their own mobile exhibit. Allyson Hay, a Walmart Fleet Driver, Road Team Captain and WIT Partner, along with WIT Director of Driver Engagement Andrea Adeyanju, were on hand to help both organizations raise awareness for women drivers, safety and trafficking. More than 70 drivers and employees toured the exhibit.
Walmart Operations Manager Rotara Smith said until he did a learning module last year, he didn’t even realize human trafficking was as pervasive as it is. “This is something we need to stop, and through supporting and bringing awareness, we can make a step in the right direction to eliminate it,” he commented.
“For me, having the opportunity to tour the trailer was a reminder that this isn’t just something you see on TV,” Walmart General Transportation Manager Samantha Patterson said. “It isn’t something that only happens in big cities. It’s in your community and mine, and we can and will make a difference!”
Heather Jameyson, Walmart General Transportation manager, exclaimed, “This has been an incredible collaborative effort between TAT, the FDP and the hosting locations. It’s a testament to our collective passion for this cause. One undeniable outcome of this tour is that more people are enlightened about this issue than ever before. You see people’s faces change between the time they step on the trailer and when they step out. They have a different perspective and feel motivated to look for and do something about situations they see that just don’t look or feel right. I may never know if even one person is saved as a result of this tour, but I know we have changed what people know about human trafficking, who the victims are and who is fueling it. If that knowledge increases the odds that someone is saved by a phone call to the hotline, I’ll take it. If just one of those people who have toured the FDP trailer comes out with a fire in their belly to do something more in their community, I’ll take that too.”
“This has been a humbling experience,” said TAT Freedom Drivers Project Director Brandy Belton. “To see so many Walmart drivers, management staff and employees from the terminals and distribution centers learn about human trafficking and how many different forms it presents itself, has been incredible. It’s truly an honor to engage, answer questions and help our guests better understand how they can safely help protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”
In preparation for the new school year, Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) staff have been making the rounds of summer school transportation conferences. In June and July, the team presented at seven school transportation events in six states, reaching roughly 1,000 industry stakeholders from across the U.S. and Canada.
“Members of the school transportation industry truly care about the children they’re transporting,” said Lexi Higgins, BOTL deputy director. “School bus drivers and other school transportation staff play an important role in the lives of children, especially when it comes to keeping them safe. I’m inspired by the way the industry welcomes our training with open arms, and recognizes this is an important topic when it comes to student safety.”
“The pupil transportation industry is dynamic, and your important messages … demonstrated that you recognize the important role we play in the lives of our students, that you understand the passion we feel towards our mission of safely transporting the world’s most precious cargo, and that you are an advocate for the students in our care,” shared Heather Handschin, vice president of the Virginia Association for Pupil Transportation. “You had a captive audience in class! Your story with a personal connection with yellow school buses is so heartfelt. I hope everyone that heard the message becomes another link in the safety chain, and that they reach out to your team for assistance.”
While at these summer events, BOTL asked attendees to share their experiences and observations about possible human trafficking instances they’ve noticed in their daily work lives. So far, staff have received more than 400 survey responses.
For information on BOTL school transportation materials, how to reach out to your local school district and ways you can encourage your school district to BOTL train their transportation staff, simply download the school outreach toolkit.
Our thanks to the following organizations for hosting BOTL this summer:
Presenting at the 63rd Annual Rocky Mountain Safety Rendezvous in July, TAT Industry Training Program Specialist Chris Moreno taught attendees about human trafficking and how they, as the eyes and ears of the nation’s highways, could help stop this nationwide scourge.
Hosted this year by the Utah Trucking Association, the conference included Q&A sessions after each presentation, giving Moreno the opportunity to share TAT’s options for local driver training, details of adopting an anti-trafficking-in-persons policy and news about TAT’s new ELD app, called eTAT.
Attendees took home 750 free wallet cards and vehicle decals, providing quick access to the National Human Trafficking Hotline number. If your organization would like to receive TAT materials to share with your associates, please visit the materials section of our website.
“I want to thank the Utah Trucking Association and all the presentation attendees for such a warm welcome,” Moreno said. “Everyone at TAT appreciates the opportunity to educate and inform the transportation industry about how easy it is to help stop human trafficking. As a constant presence on our nation’s highways, drivers have a unique potential to see signs that others might not. Together, we can help authorities recover those who are trapped.”
In less-populated states, like Montana, it sometimes takes a while for human trafficking to be discovered as an ongoing problem. But no longer. Awareness and education are underway in the state, and TAT is playing a role.
In June, the Montana Trucking Association (MTA) invited TAT’s Freedom Drivers Project to its Expo and Truck Driving Championship events. Both were held in Helena, June 10-11. During the two days, 121 toured the FDP at the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds, including two groups of DMV student drivers and their instructors. Of those students, only six of them had heard of human trafficking.
Duane Williams, MTA CEO, commented, “Thanks to Truckers Against Trafficking for realizing that this timely, important message is needed even in low-population states like Montana. Thanks for taking the time and effort to have a presence at our expo. Even if just one individual was helped, it is worth it.”
Montana is considered one of the states in the nation with the highest number of truck stop casinos, so the TAT Coalition Build (CB) team will be holding a CB Aug. 23 in Helena and a second one Oct. 19 in Billings, both focusing on creating partnerships between law enforcement, trucking, truck stops, buses and casinos to close loopholes to traffickers and train people on how to spot trafficking and how to use a victim-centered approach with human trafficking survivors.
Designed with ELDs in mind, eTAT is a new app to help drivers identify and report labor and sex trafficking in their everyday work. Drivers can view human trafficking red flags and examples, as well as scan QR codes with their personal mobile devices to access training videos, podcast episodes and more. Additional benefits include:
“If you decide to install eTAT for your fleet on their company devices, please let TAT know, so we can better track our reach,” explained Laura Cyrus, senior director of Industry Training and Outreach. “We’ll be able to get analytics on the total number of downloads, but beyond that, we can’t track where/who is using it, unless folks let us know.”
Click here for more information on the app or search for the eTAT app at the Google Play store.
TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier and TAT Field Trainer and Survivor Leader Kelley Alsobrook conducted six trainings to 547 members of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) on June 21-23. Attendance at the trainings consisted of both in-person and virtual participation.
This was the first time TAT conducted law enforcement trainings within the state, despite having long-standing relationships with ALEA’s Motor Carrier Safety Division, the Alabama Office of the Attorney General and with the Alabama Trucking Association. Many of the officers commented on how eye-opening the training was, with one stating, “This training has kept me up thinking about potential victims I may have missed. I know what to look for now, and I will definitely be on the lookout.”
Lanier commented, “To be able to reach this many law enforcement officers all across Alabama with this critical information about human trafficking was a true joy and privilege. We look forward to our continued partnership with ALEA, and we hope many victims are recovered from this heinous crime.”
To see the life-saving impact TAT training and a victim-centered approach can make in the life of a trafficking victim, watch TAT’s latest survivor success story. Hear trafficking survivor Nikki share how a truck stop manager helped her escape her trafficker and begin a new life of freedom. Click here to watch her story. To become a TAT-trained employee like the manager mentioned in the video, check out all the free, truck stop-specific training materials here or email TAT at firstname.lastname@example.org and request truck stop-specific training.
Seeing the need for strategic distribution points for its materials and message to reach more members of the transportation industry, Truckers Against Trafficking created the TAT Dealership Partner program (TDP) to engage those business dealerships resourcing drivers.
Pomp’s Tire Service Inc. became a TDP in 2017. Over the years, Pomp’s has continued to increase its level of engagement in that program, displaying its commitment to combat human trafficking. Pomp’s has not only trained their employees with TAT materials, displayed TAT materials and hung TAT posters at their brick and mortar locations and become a TAT sponsor, but they’ve introduced TAT to other industry organizations, highlighted TAT on their website, and now have created and are employing several co-branded wrapped trailers to raise awareness of TAT and the fight against human trafficking wherever their trucks travel.
To launch their new trailers, Pomp’s is hosting a series of training and launch events as the trailers move out to various Pomp’s locations across the country. The first two of these events were held in Kansas City and Dupo, Illinois.
T.J. Trum, general counsel/team leader for Risk Management and Safety, Pomp’s Tire, stated, “The mission and values of Truckers Against Trafficking directly align with our core values. Our expanding relationship with TAT in this first trailer wrap will further amplify their important message. By training our teammates, publicly demonstrating our firm support for anti-trafficking efforts and generating conversations with our customers and the general public, we believe that we will be the difference in helping a victim of human trafficking.”
Three employees of EMBARK, the Oklahoma City transit authority, are the 2022 honorees of the TAT Harriet Tubman Award presented by Protective Insurance.
Kirk Rayner, Nicole Cavicante and Laura Figueroa received the award at the “Protective500” event/Harriet Tubman presentation celebration weekend hosted by Protective Insurance in Indianapolis, Indiana May 27-29.
“We really appreciate you acknowledging all of us,” shared Cavicante. “It’s a blessing. We have hearts of gold, and just to know that there is someone out there noticing and that you all want to recognize and include us means so much. We are so proud that we helped potentially save a life. That’s the most important part. It makes us want to keep doing this work and keep serving our community in as safe a way as possible.”
The Harriet Tubman Award presented by Protective Insurance, which carries with it a $2500 check, is named in honor of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, whose courageous personal actions resulted in the transportation of 300 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad and whose overall role in the freedom movement was instrumental in the freeing of thousands more. Born into slavery in 1820, Miss Tubman was the first African American woman buried with full military honors and the first to have the inaugural Liberty ship named after her – the SS Harriet Tubman – by the US Maritime Commission. The award was created to honor a member of the transportation industry each year, whose direct actions help save or improve the lives of those exploited or prevent human trafficking from taking place.
In early 2021, EMBARK trained all its staff and drivers with the Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) materials. Later that year, while driving his regular route, Rayner, an EMBARK bus driver, picked up a passenger in distress and turned his BOTL training into action. As the woman boarded the bus, she was crying, and Rayner could see she seemed frightened. She was dirty, disheveled and had cuts and bruises on her body. She kept looking around as if she were afraid someone was watching her. When Kirk engaged her in conversation, she told him he couldn’t help her … she was running away from “bad people” and believed they were tracking her.
When he arrived at the transit center, Rayner contacted his route supervisor, Nicole Cavicante, and told her it was urgent. Cavicante spoke with the woman, who was trembling as she described being transported state-to-state by people who were controlling her. She was confused about her whereabouts and said that when she boarded the EMBARK bus, she was trying to get somewhere safe. Thinking about a transportation contract EMBARK has with the Palomar Family Justice Center, an Oklahoma City-based organization serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, Cavicante enrolled the aid of Laura Figueroa, the bus driver dedicated to the Palomar contract. Figueroa helped make the woman feel safe, and she confided additional information that indicated she was likely a victim of sex trafficking. Figueroa transported her to Palomar, where the staff gave her some food, conducted an intake and coordinated next steps with law enforcement and a shelter.
“Transportation is a barrier to receiving life-saving services for so many of our clients,” shared Anden Bull, Palomar COO. “Palomar’s Partnership with EMBARK is instrumental in filling that gap, so that our clients can find safety and healing.”
Annie Sovcik, BOTL director, emphasized, “It is an honor to recognize these three extraordinary EMBARK employees for the quick and thoughtful actions they took to support a woman in distress on one of EMBARK’s buses. Through engaging the woman in conversation and helping to connect her to local resources, these employees exemplified what a difference frontline transit employees can make in the recovery of suspected human trafficking victims. Beyond that, the kindness and sensitivity they showed is a beautiful example of transit employees taking a victim-centered approach.”
In response to feedback and questions from partners, Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) has created a number of specifically tailored resources for school transportation and transit. Those resources include a school transportation wallet card, an information sheet on human trafficking and special needs children for school transportation, and two-two-page backgrounders on labor trafficking — one for transit and the other for school transportation.
Through pre-orders and recent requests, BOTL has already distributed over 47,000 school transportation wallet cards. In addition to promoting virtually, staff will also be sharing these resources at school transportation conferences across the country this summer and fall. If you would like to receive these materials, please contact email@example.com.
ConocoPhillips and the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office co-hosted a Coalition Build (CB) with TAT in Carlsbad, New Mexico in late May. This is the first in-person CB in Carlsbad and follows a virtual CB held in late 2020, both geared to reach the heavy energy presence in the area. Fifty-five participants attended, representing the energy industry as well as local, state and federal law enforcement and some child advocacy organizations.
Jay Ratliff, special agent in charge/commander of the AG’s Human Trafficking Task Force, provided the human trafficking 101 presentation. He joined Natasha Sing, forensic interviewer for CASA Kids, and Morgan Langer, special agent for Homeland Security Investigations, on the law enforcement panel.
Ratliff said, “This event was a huge success in building stronger partnerships and really connecting the key stakeholders to unite in the fight against human trafficking. I can’t express my gratitude enough to Truckers Against Trafficking and Conoco/Phillips for bringing us all together.”
Surveys taken after the CB were positive, with comments such as:
“The law enforcement panel was very enlightening. Great idea!” and “Very powerful indeed! Very grateful to have heard her (the survivor) story as it really adds perspective to this issue, especially to those of us that don’t have first-hand knowledge of this issue.”
Louie Greek, TAT Coalition Build specialist, and Liz Williamson, TAT field trainer and survivor-leader, spoke to approximately 1000 TA Petro managers at the TA Petro Expo in April in Sandusky, Ohio. This is the first time the Expo has been held since the pandemic. Continuing to work on deepening relationships into the critical travel plaza/truck stop industry, Greek and Williamson shared ways TA employees can combat human trafficking at their locations, as well as success stories of fellow employees who got involved and saved a life.
TA is one of TAT’s earliest partners in the travel center/truck stop industry, with TA beginning training for all employees in 2011. Barry Richards, TA president, recorded a personal message at the beginning of the TAT training video, emphasizing the organization’s passion for combating the crime of human trafficking. Over the years, hundreds of store managers and employees have attended TAT Coalition Builds nationwide, and TAT materials are displayed at many TA stores. A longtime TAT corporate sponsor, TA has also sponsored multiple product promotions in its stores to support TAT’s mission.
Check out this beautiful new wrap Freestyle has put on one of their trailers to complement their Everyday Heroes truck, which was purchased last fall!
According to Freestyle Transport management, Freestyle Transport is wrapping one of their new trailers to help show their support of TAT and help spread awareness. They believe TAT and the Freedom Drivers Project have done so much to bring awareness to drivers and companies that this is the least they can do to help. The new trailer went on the road in May.
The Nebraska State Patrol Carrier Enforcement Division (NSP CED) received the 2022 TAT Champion Award in the State Agency Category in an April ceremony.
“When we were considering the recipient for the State Agency Category of our TAT Champion Award this year, we wanted to honor a law enforcement partner who took on the TAT mission, made it their own and innovated beyond what we had seen done before, and of course, the Nebraska State Patrol Carrier Enforcement Division came to mind,” stated TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier as she presented the award.
Each year, the TAT Champion Awards recognize and honor the pioneering, creative, innovative and generous efforts of specific TAT partners whose actions have significantly furthered TAT’s work in the fight to end the crime of human trafficking and recover more victims and prosecute more perpetrators.
In detailing the efforts NSP CED has made in working with TAT, Lanier mentioned:
“And truly,” commented Lanier, “we would be here for hours if I mentioned every state agency, every location, every tweet and social media post and every industry that has been touched by your efforts. They are myriad, and outstanding. We wish every state documented their efforts like you all do, and we do use you as an example in our best practices for state patrols around the nation.”
She concluded, “It’s not only your incredible efforts to combat trafficking, but your integrity, kindness and character as individuals and as a division that stand out to us as an organization.”
“This partnership, with the trucking industry and, specifically, Truckers Against Trafficking, is there to build awareness, provide intervention, and rescue victims of human trafficking,” said Col. John Bolduc, superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “We are extremely proud of our Carrier Enforcement Division troopers, investigators and support staff for their relentless work and the valuable partnerships they’ve developed in this important mission.”
From law enforcement trainings in New Brunswick to a Coalition Build (CB) in Toronto to presentations and tours through the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) at Canadian companies and a First Nation’s event, TAT staff were busy in Canada in April.
Law Enforcement Trainings in New Brunswick
TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier and TAT Training Specialist Annika Huff conducted TAT’s first law enforcement trainings in Canada in the province of New Brunswick to approximately 200 attendees from local government agencies, as well as to law enforcement from the federal and provincial levels. The training was sponsored by the Government of New Brunswick’s Women’s Equality Branch.
Many attendees mentioned that this was the first training they had had on human trafficking, and that they would be making this a priority in their work. On surveys taken at the end of trainings, comments consistently voiced sentiments such as:
“Annika is just incredible and so, so powerful. Thank you so much for sharing your words and story with us and the world. The impact is immeasurable. You are such a strong person, and I will be thinking about this training for a long time.”
“Kylla, you are an amazing presenter! You held my attention the entire time. Your analogies and stories were great!”
Coalition Build in Mississauga, Ontario
This was the first CB co-hosted by the TAT Canada Committee and TAT, with additional co-hosts of the Ministry of the Ontario Attorney General and the Ontario Motor Coach Association. The event, with the FDP in attendance, drew 60 participants from the trucking, truck stop and bus industries, as well as law enforcement and government agencies. Stevie McKeeme, the Communications and Marketing manager for the Ontario Motor Coach Association, said, “Very well delivered, and I appreciated the attention paid to the moments throughout Liz’s experience (Liz Williamson, TAT training specialist and survivor-leader), where someone could have stepped in to offer help or pick up on some red flags that could have changed the course of events for her. This is great information to have when keeping a keen eye to help end human trafficking.”
FDP events at Day & Ross and UPS
A TAT Freedom Driver Level sponsor, Day & Ross helped haul the FDP across Canada to various events and also brought the exhibit to two of its locations – York, Pennsylvania and Brampton, Ontario – in April. Doug Tingley, CEO of Day & Ross, Canada, stated, “A lot of human trafficking occurs on the highways. We’re literally making thousands of trips across Canada every week. If our people can identify even one or two occurrences, and help stop it, then it’s well worth it.”
A TAT North Star Level sponsor, UPS brought the FDP to its Toronto Hub and its Caledon location. Derek Venman, VP of Operations for UPS Canada and a member of the TAT Canada Committee, toured the exhibit and commented, “The FDP was meaningful and impactful. What a great tool in our fight against these crimes towards humanity. I have challenged all our senior leadership in Canada to go to the TAT website and watch the video again and get their certifications; the response has been fantastic. I am so proud of UPS for the support it has shown to such a worthy cause, and I am honored to be a part of it. I know if every one of our drivers is trained to recognize and respond to human trafficking appropriately, we can really make a difference in the lives of victims and their families.”
More than 450 people toured the FDP at the Day & Ross and UPS events … 130 at Day & Ross and 320 at UPS.
Shawanaga First Nation Gas and Variety
The FDP made a stop at the Shawanaga First Nation’s new Gas and Variety store, which will soon be expanding into a truck stop along highway 69. The Shawanaga First Nation people plan to train staff, community and drivers with TAT materials as they pass through. Chief Adam Pawis and Bridget Perrier, an Indigenous survivor, both spoke at the FDP event.
Sixty-two people from the community toured the FDP with their families and children to learn about human trafficking and what they can do as a community to educate themselves and their families.
Nicole Forfar, Home and Community Care coordinator for the Shawanaga First Nation Healing Centre, declared, “I was very excited to have this event in our community to help educate and spread awareness. Seeing, reading and hearing the stories of human trafficking made me feel sad and naive that this really happens in our world and society. I’m so happy that this mobile trailer has come to Canada, to our First Nation, to spread awareness of human trafficking. It’s an important initiative, so we can stop these traffickers and help these girls and women.”
Truck World in Mississauga, Ontario
For the first time, the FDP and TAT staff exhibited at Truck World, Canada’s national truck show, in late April. More than 600 people toured the FDP, and TAT staff handed out 4000 wallet cards and 3000 window decals. FDP Director Brandy Belton reported that many people were emotionally moved by the exhibit, and many companies indicated they wanted to start TAT training and adopt an anti-human trafficking policy.
To further its ability to develop relationships with organizations and stakeholders who will assist in the fight against human trafficking, both in Canada and the United States, TAT has recently hired Matt Fuller as Canada program manager and Chris Moreno as industry training program specialist.
Fuller, who had attended a TAT law enforcement training in Illinois last year through his work as part of the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force, will focus his efforts on bringing TAT’s training, education and awareness to TAT’s Canadian partners. Prior to joining TAT, he worked in higher education and as an anti-trafficking advocate for a social service agency. A graduate of Bradley University, he said, “I’m excited about joining the dynamic TAT team, because TAT is a recognized leader in anti-trafficking awareness and a voice for those who have none.”
In addition to making presentations for TAT, Moreno will work to engage new partners for TAT and manage critical long-term industry relationships. She received her bachelor of science degree in kinesiology and an MBA in organizational leadership from the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota. “I’m excited to be working with TAT, because their approach to fighting human trafficking is innovative, effective and allows for widespread change to take place front and center,” she stated.
Adding to its industry-specific training film library, TAT has just released a 23-minute training video for the more than 90,000 members of the moving industry and all other in-home delivery drivers. The video provides an understanding of what human trafficking is, how it might intersect with everyday jobs and the specific red flags drivers can be alert to as they move in and out of homes across North America.
The training features the experience of survivor-leader Liz Williamson and her story of being trafficked by her mother out of their family home. Multiple times in the course of her exploitation, home movers and other service industry-related people came into her home and would have seen multiple red flags indicating human trafficking if they’d known what to look for. Chief Tommie J. Reese, Sr., law enforcement coordinator of the Office of the Alabama Attorney General and a TAT Board member, shares information on what makes someone vulnerable to trafficking, additional red flags to look for, and, most importantly, the information law enforcement needs in order to activate investigation.
“For years, TAT has had partners in the moving and storage industry using our over-the-road trucking training video,” explained Laura Cyrus, TAT director of Corporate Engagement. “As many van lines perform cross-country moves, the original trucking training by TAT was certainly applicable, but we knew there was an additional piece to this complex issue, and that’s what these men and women might be seeing inside homes. After hearing stories of movers suspecting they may have been moving brothels to then hearing stories from survivor-leaders about movers coming into the homes where they were exploited or the homes they were forced to live in with their trafficker, we knew there was an incredible opportunity to make another industry-specific training video.”
She continued, “We’re proud to offer this piece to our current partners in the moving industry and those that provide in-home delivery of goods. It’s my hope we’ll be able to activate many more companies and help yet another niche sector of transportation be part of driving change in the fight against human trafficking. I have no doubt that this training — and our partners throughout the industry empowered by it — will change lives. ”
Overwhelming support and buy-in for this new training were garnered in late 2021 when Cyrus shared a short preview with some 450 agents and corporate employees from Atlas World Group. The impact of the preview fueled a fundraising effort that shot up from a goal of $2500 to nearly $120,000 in several days. Case studies from this training and other information garnered additional support and excitement to view the video when shared with the National Home Delivery Association and its leaders and members.
TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier and TAT Training Specialist and Survivor-Leader Annika Huff provided 13 law enforcement trainings in March, traveling to Illinois, across Mississippi, to two cities in West Virginia and on to Albany, New York to train law enforcement officers from multiple agencies.
The team first traveled to Fairview, Illinois to train 30 members of the Illinois Southern Command. As a result of the training, they received opportunities to return and train at an additional four locations, including a statewide law enforcement conference. Moving on to Mississippi, Lanier and Huff trained 104 officers in Hattiesburg, Cleveland and Pearl.
Mississippi officers committed to visiting truck stops, bus terminals and trucking and bus companies in their jurisdictions with TAT training materials. The law enforcement coordinator for Northern Mississippi at the US Attorney’s Office attended one of the training sessions and requested to work with TAT to bring training to the northern part of the state as well. Another law enforcement officer, who had attended a previous TAT law enforcement training in early 2020 and been inspired, shared that he has become certified as a human trafficking investigator and is working on becoming a Shared Hope International ambassador.
In West Virginia, the pair trained 19 officers at the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office in Martinsburg and then traveled to Dunbar to provide two trainings for 49 officers from multiple agencies, including the state’s Public Service Commission of which the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement is a part. The trainings resulted in additional invitations to return and train, as well as requests for more TAT material. In New York, at the end of the month, Lanier and Huff provided six four-hour trainings for the New York State Police.
Survey comments on the trainings included the following:
“Listening to her (Huff) speak was very powerful. I know this happens every day all around the world. It makes me want to make a difference in someone’s life. I will try hard to do my job better and help.”
“I was moved and motivated by both presenters to be more vigilant in identifying victims and traffickers.”
“The level of respect I now have for her (Huff) after her presentation is off the chart. Her level of courage is truly amazing. Thank you for opening my eyes to something I really had no idea was such a huge issue in today’s society.”
“Very interactive with us. I believe her (Lanier) energy towards the training is very good for learning. I love how passionate she is about how much of a problem trafficking is.”
Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, and Ashley Smith, TAT director of Energy Operations, presented a Human Trafficking 201 for Marathon Oil employees in early March. Following an informal, guided Q&A session with the executive team, the 201 presentation began with an introduction by Lee Tillman, chairman, president and CEO of Marathon Oil, and a 15-minute human trafficking refresher from Micah Gamboa, executive director of Elijah Rising, a Houston-area, anti-trafficking NGO.
Conducted in a conversation-style format with two Marathon Oil employees, Mary Ellen Weylandt, manager of Social Responsibility and Stakeholder Engagement, and Kathleen Suave, manager of Communications and Social Impact, Lanier and Smith were able to address the topics that most commonly arise in conversations about the issue. These included conspiracy theories, the vulnerabilities that impact trafficking and how to decipher headlines and news stories associated with the issue. Approximately 255 employees, both in-person and through live stream to Marathon offices across the country, attended.
“Engaging in conversations like these is an important step to end human trafficking. Learning the realities of human trafficking and how to respond is one of the ways we’re using the size and reach of our company and industry to build safer communities where we live and work,” commented Tillman.
The following week, Smith also presented to 60 field superintendents and safety personnel at the 2022 Price Gregory Safety and Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas. There, she explained the realities of human trafficking and the specific training and actions that workers in the field could take to combat this crime.
Smith said, “With projects and operations across the US and Canada, the opportunity to activate these employees to recognize and report human trafficking was invaluable.”
After an absence due to Covid, TAT returned to the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, March 24-27, in time to help celebrate the trucking show’s 50th anniversary. TAT staffers Susan Dold, TAT systems administrator, Brandy Belton, FDP director, Hillary Benanzer, data analyst, and Louie Greek, CB specialist, manned the exhibit, connected with old friends and current supporters and engaged more companies and people in the fight against human trafficking. They handed out 7,000 wallet cards and 3,000 window decals.
Dold said, “A big thank you to Walmart and First Call Logistics for providing volunteers for the event; they were instrumental in the success of our event!
The Board of Directors for Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) announces that as of March 1, 2022, Executive Director Kendis Paris will move into a new role as founder in residence, with Esther Goetsch, currently TAT’s director of Strategic Partnerships, assuming the role of interim executive director.
In making the announcement, Scott Perry, chairman of the TAT Board of Directors, said, “We are in a very unique position that most organizations would cherish, in that we have an extremely strong staff who are capable of excelling in many areas. Esther Goetsch is a great example of that strength of character and capability, and we are so extremely pleased to have her stepping into this role to make sure TAT is pursuing its mission every single day. The battle we are fighting takes strong leaders, strong teams and strong industry partners, and we have all of that at TAT. We are extremely grateful for the selfless role that Kendis Paris has played in building this organization from the ground up and are extremely excited for the great work she will continue to do in a much broader capacity benefitting many more stakeholders.
Goetsch, who has been with TAT for seven years, has scaled the Coalition Build (CB) program into one of the organization’s key strategic activities, responsible for bringing together diverse partners across the United States and Canada to build networks and collaboration to close loopholes to traffickers. CBs serve as catalysts for public-private partnerships at the local and state levels, where they generate new partnerships within industry and law enforcement, which are then able to extend the human trafficking awareness and training they gain more deeply into their communities. During her time at TAT, Goetsch has not only worked closely with all the organization’s programs, but she has also represented TAT at numerous legislative and governmental meetings, both in the United States and in Canada.
Paris, who has led TAT as executive director since 2011, said, “It has been an incredible privilege to help create and scale TAT over the last decade of my life. I’ve loved getting to know so many tremendous professional drivers, industry professionals and law enforcement personnel, who are dedicated to combating the horrors of human trafficking, and I’m humbled that TAT has been able to play a role in victim recovery. Esther is the right successor to take TAT to the next level, and she will do a fantastic job working alongside the broader TAT team, the TAT Board of Directors and Advisory Committee, as well as the myriad of TAT partners, in delivering on TAT’s mission of discovering and disrupting human trafficking networks.”
Paris will leave TAT April 15 to establish her own consulting firm, which will pursue broader impact efforts through targeted systems change. Her focus there will expand beyond the scope of work she began at TAT more than a decade ago.
TAT has released its 2021 annual report, so be sure to check it out. It not only details progress made in the trucking, bus and energy industries with people and organizations trained and training, but it profiles organizations and people, highlights work being done in both Canada and Mexico, and notes new resources created, like the local driver training video.
Following the World Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in February where Busing On The Lookout (BOTL) Director Annie Sovcik addressed a crowd of casino security and surveillance managers, Willy Allison, the founder/owner of World Game Protection commented, “Thanks so much for your talk at our show. It touched a lot of nerves. I had old-school, hard- nose, casino veterans say to me they didn’t know how bad it was. I also had a few people say they have training and awareness programs in place, mainly the tribal casinos. They take it seriously and that’s heartening.”
For the past several years, BOTL has been working to engage the gaming industry to help improve identification of trafficking victims at the intersection between buses and casinos in the United States. This initiative, funded through support from the Dressember Foundation, has been replicating TAT’s Coalition Build (CB) model of building public-private partnerships with key industry stakeholders in target locations to improve training, awareness and local engagement.
Since late 2019, BOTL has coordinated five bus and casino CBs with partners from five different casino gambling hubs (Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, Atlantic City, New Jersey, Shreveport, Louisiana and Black Hawk/Central City, Colorado). These events reached a combined audience of 539 people, with attendees representing 50 resort/casino properties, 80 law enforcement agencies, 13 bus companies/transit agencies, and 7 truck stop/casino properties.
Co-hosts for each event were local, state and federal partners from industry and law enforcement, including the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, the Colorado Gaming Association, the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, the Nevada Trucking Association, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the Greater New Jersey Motorcoach Association, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, the Greenwood Police Department, the Nevada Resort Association, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, the Southern Nevada Human Trafficking Task Force, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada and the Department of Homeland Security / Homeland Security Investigations.
In addition to these locally focused events, BOTL has joined national partners from the American Bus Association, the National Indian Gaming Commission, the American Gaming Association and World Game Protection to reach the leaders in the casino and bus industries. Through four national events focused on human trafficking and casinos, BOTL has reached a total audience of over 770 industry leaders.
BOTL’s “Casinos Combating Human Trafficking” materials are comprised of a 24-minute, multi-media online training/webinar, a toolkit for casino managers and a casino wallet card. For more information and to access these materials, please visit here.
Ashley Smith, TAT’s Energy Operations director, presented on human trafficking, TAT and Empower Freedom, TAT’s energy training program, at the Annual Pipeline Steward School and Business Agent Officer’s Conference, Feb. 7-9 in South Carolina. Hosted by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Building Material and Construction Trade Division, along with the Teamsters National Pipeline Labor Management Cooperation Trust Committee (LMCT), the event drew an audience of 110.
Smith received an invitation to speak following her presentation at the Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA) event in December. Rachel Johnson, Public Relations manager at Precision Pipeline, and the person who helped secure Smith’s invitation, also spoke about TAT and why fighting human trafficking is important to her company and how they use TAT’s resources in their human trafficking awareness program.
Smith shared, “As a result of this event, we have widespread interest from local unions and the training team to present the Empower Freedom training to their members as the training for pipeline-specific jobs. We were also able to connect with various trucking companies, contractors and pipeline companies that work on projects across the United States. These connections will help to roll out TAT’s training programs to the various companies and unions that are a part of safe pipeline construction and maintenance.”
While the Indianapolis Coalition Build (CB) in February only drew 44 attendees from truck, truck stop, bus and law enforcement sectors, the people who attended were highly motivated to action by the end of the event.
Co-hosted by the Indiana Motor Truck Association, Indiana State Police, the Indiana Office of the Attorney General and TAT, the CB produced the following:
Caleb Middleton, Security coordinator for Indygo, said, “Thank you to all those who put this seminar together. It’s been very informative and instructional. I’ll be sure to relay this information to my leadership and team for next steps.”
Langston stated, “We are spreading a wide net in Indiana to address human trafficking.”
Eighty sheriffs from around Illinois learned more about the crime of human trafficking and strategies to combat it, when they attended TAT’s four-hour law enforcement training in Peoria in February. Conducted by TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier and TAT Training Specialist and Survivor-Advocate Annika Huff, the training also included how to employ a victim-centered approach. TAT provided handouts and a law enforcement-specific webinar for the sheriffs to take back to their agencies to train their deputies.
“TAT has systematically been providing training on human trafficking for the commercial vehicle enforcement units of our nation’s state patrols to great success,” stated Lanier. “But we have also recognized the need to conduct these trainings for sheriff’s offices around the country, as they are often the first responder to calls from truck drivers who are reporting sex trafficking. Armed with the knowledge about this crime and how to best engage with a victim of human trafficking, deputies will be better equipped to bring perpetrators to justice and to recover victims of this heinous crime.”
Several of the sheriffs are sending their deputies to TAT’s March Illinois training, and TAT has been invited back to train chief deputies throughout Illinois as well. Comments about the training included, “This was very powerful, and it really made me think about the trafficking issue,” and “We have also included our emergency management staff and our search and rescue team members in local human trafficking training.”
Because street gangs and human trafficking intersect, TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier and Survivor-Leader Kelley Alsobrook conducted a four-hour law enforcement training for 150 law enforcement officers from across Texas at the 2022 Gang Intelligence and Supervision Conference in Galveston, Texas in mid-January.
Officers learned more about how gangs intersect with domestic sex trafficking and labor trafficking, the different tactics they use to control their victims and best practices for engaging with victims using a victim-centered approach. One officer commented, “We need more of this type of training, because this crime is literally happening everywhere. This was eye-opening.”
Street gangs have increasingly moved into sex trafficking for a number of reasons:
Street gangs can and do “turn out” some females wanting to jump into the gang … making them “pay their dues.” These girls think this is showing their loyalty to the gang and will acquiesce to earn favor. Or they may traffick out of convenience if they have a girl they can control and someone who’s willing to pay for sex. Well-organized gangs with large numbers may operate brothels out of a home or apartment or may run large groups of girls out to agricultural fields/factories to “service” the workers. Gangs that also smuggle people will traffick them to pay off smuggling debt as well as any other daily living expenses (always at inflated rates).
And street gangs can also compel people into labor trafficking. Lanier, who worked with gangs in El Salvador for two years, shared that there, gangs have kids begging on the street, and then collect the money by force from them. In the U.S., gangs sometimes make victims sell drugs or harvest marijuana through force, fraud or coercion and keep all the money earned for themselves.
Diving rapidly into the new year, the Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) team planned or participated in a series of events to commemorate National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The two virtual events BOTL co-hosted/co-planned focused on building partnerships to combat human trafficking. The first, held in partnership with the American Public Transportation Association, drew over 80 representatives from public transit agencies throughout the United States. During this session, participants heard about anti-trafficking efforts underway at the transit agencies in Miami-Dade County, Florida and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area, Texas. They also learned about partnership opportunities with BOTL, the National Safe Place Network and Elerts, as well as received updates from the Federal Transit Administration.
In the second virtual briefing, BOTL partnered with the Nevada Resort Association, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security / Homeland Security Investigations, and the Southern Nevada Human Trafficking Task Force to focus on creating local partnerships to end human trafficking in Las Vegas. The event, with 161 attendees, brought together representatives from the resort/casino and passenger transportation industries with law enforcement training and sharing best practices and local coordination. Of attendees who completed the survey, 96.7 percent reported feeling better equipped to recognize and report human trafficking after attending the briefing.
In addition to these BOTL co-hosted webinars, in the month of January, BOTL reached industry leaders through presentations to the National Bus Traffic Association, the American Bus Association’s Bus Industry Safety Council and Allied Universal Security. BOTL also presented to school administrators and school transportation supervisors from across Kansas at the Kansas Safe & Supportive Schools Virtual Conference, hosted by the Kansas Department of Education. BOTL also distributed its School Transportation Outreach Toolkit through the National Junior League and other NGO partners.
Continuing to work on deepening relationships into the critical travel plaza/truck stop industry, TAT will be speaking at the 2022 Travel Centers of America (TA) Leadership Expo in Sandusky, Ohio Feb. 16. This is the third time TAT has participated in this event, having presented in both 2018 and 2020.
TAT counts TA as one of its earliest partners in the travel center/truck stop industry, with TA beginning training for all employees in 2011. Barry Richards, TA president, recorded a personal message at the beginning of the TAT training video, emphasizing the organization’s passion for combating the crime of human trafficking. Over the years, hundreds of store managers and employees have attended TAT Coalition Builds nationwide, and TAT materials are displayed at many TA stores. A longtime TAT corporate sponsor, TA has also sponsored multiple product promotions in its stores to support TAT’s mission.
The TAT Board of Directors elected Richards to join the board in 2018, and in 2020, TA received the TAT Champion Award in the Organization Category. TA employees have received the Harriet Tubman Award, TAT’s highest award, twice, because of their efforts in aiding in the prevention and recovery of victims of human trafficking.
The winning bid of $260,000 for the Everyday Heroes Truck by Serg Kodryanu, CEO of Freestyle Transport, at the Rithcie Bros. December online auction, coupled with an additional $68,000 in donations from industry suppliers and trucking companies, has netted TAT its largest donation ever.
“Truckers Against Trafficking is an incredible organization that is utilizing our industry to help victims of human trafficking. After I learned the numbers of how many victims have been affected by human traffickers, I immediately felt it in my heart to make it our company’s mission to support such a great and noble cause as TAT and its mission to stop this terrible crime,” said Kodryanu. “With drivers and other members of our industry spread throughout North America, we have a great opportunity to identify and report suspicious activity and help potential human trafficking victims. Our new Everyday Heroes truck will help us spread awareness of human trafficking to other drivers and communities across the country.”
Freestyle Transport is a Vancouver, Washington-based company that specializes in delivering refrigerated and dry van freight throughout the lower 48 states. According to Edward Little, who is TAT trained and Freestyle Transport’s president, the company is in the process of getting all its executives, staff, drivers and volunteers TAT trained and looks forward to increasing awareness about the crime of human trafficking through its new Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 Next Gen.
“I’ve been a long-time supporter of Truckers Against Trafficking and its mission to educate members of our industry to identify potential cases of human trafficking,” said Little. “As a former driver, I saw firsthand the opportunities our industry has to help human trafficking victims. We’re thrilled to have purchased the Everyday Heroes truck and help support such a great organization.”
Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, recalling the auctions of previous Everyday Heroes trucks, said the $328,000 TAT received between the Everyday Heroes truck sale and additional donations far surpassed the 2019 and 2017 Everyday Heroes donations. “We are so grateful to have Serg Kodryanu and Freestyle Transport submit the winning bid. We appreciate Serg’s generous purchase and support, which will help us fund our programs. The Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 Next Gen will serve as a great addition to his fleet.”
“The Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 Next Gen auction was a fantastic success, thanks to Freestyle Transport and our incredible sponsors, who generously donated parts and money to build this special truck,” said Don Blake, new truck sales manager at Inland Kenworth – Phoenix, TAT board member, and driving force behind this year’s auction. “Our goal was to build off the success from the previous two Everyday Heroes Kenworth trucks sold at auction by generating a larger donation to TAT than ever before. We were able to do just that, thanks to heightened interest in the new Kenworth T680 Next Gen and Greg Evigan’s (BJ and the Bear star) involvement in promoting TAT and this auction.”
To make the Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 Next Gen truck possible, Kenworth Truck Company, Inland Kenworth, and other leading companies and organizations in the trucking industry provided significant support. Other sponsors include: Alcoa, Arizona Trucking Association, Chevron, Davco, East Penn Batteries, Eaton Corporation, FlowBelow, GraMag, Horton, Independent Carrier Safety Association, Jost Fifth Wheel, Knight-Swift Transportation, Meritor, PACCAR Financial, PACCAR Parts, Pana-Pacific, PrePass, Ritchie Bros., Southwest Truck Driver Training, Tectran, The Vomela Transportation Group, Trimble, Utility Trailer Sales Company of Arizona, and WABCO.
Editor’s note: In December 2020, members of the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Secretary of Communications and Transportation (SCT — Mexico’s DOT), Consejo Ciudadano (Mexican NGO that runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline), El Pozo de Vida (Mexican anti-trafficking NGO), and Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) began meeting to formulate a plan to create and distribute anti-trafficking curriculum for members of the trucking and bus industries in Mexico.
The team identified the need to enhance the current training materials (a 12-minute video and tri-fold wallet card) of Guardianes del Asfalto, the Consejo program specifically addressing commercial drivers, by adding industry-specific indicators of trafficking. So, in the second quarter of 2021, Mexican team members interviewed Mexican professional drivers to assess their knowledge of human trafficking, if they had seen any of it, and if so, where and how.
The survey yielded a list of industry-specific trafficking indicators, which were added to training resources in addition to more commercial vehicle imagery and a more tailored message.
Initial distribution of the tri-fold cards and DVDs will be through the SCT’s commercial vehicle inspectors, as well as the many national trucking associations in Mexico like CANACAR and CANAPAT. The six national associations boast a membership of 80 percent of the Mexican trucking industry. In March, the SCT will have 30,000 wallet cards distributed throughout the nation to SCT offices, as well as to the 400 trucking inspectors for distribution to truck drivers and possibly some trucking companies, as part of their participation with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s first annual Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative. That initiative has events planned in January and February in the United States and Canada, respectively. This wallet card distribution will be Mexico’s “event.”
On the private side, El Pozo de Vida and Consejo Ciudadano will each have one employee dedicate five hours a week to direct outreach to the Mexican trucking industry (total 10 hours weekly).
If you haven’t added an anti-trafficking educational or awareness event to your January calendar, there’s still time. National Human Trafficking Awareness Month (NHTAM) is a specific time set aside by presidential proclamation for everyone to educate themselves about human trafficking and how to spot the signs of trafficking. It’s also a time to spread that education to workplaces, churches, schools, government leaders and elsewhere. And January is that month each year.
Check out the calendar at the end of this newsletter to see some of the activities in which TAT staff are engaged. One that’s of particular note is the webinar hosted by the American Trucking Associations and TAT on Jan. 11 at 2 p.m. EST. The webinar will discuss how professional drivers can work to combat the serious issue of human trafficking, featuring firsthand perspectives from a survivor and a professional driver. It will serve as a helpful training opportunity for anyone in the trucking industry. The webinar is complimentary and open to the public. Register by clicking here.
Ritchie Bros. will auction off the third Everyday Heroes truck, a Kenworth T680 Next Gen, on Dec. 10 at their Los Angeles auction, with proceeds benefiting Truckers Against Trafficking. The Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 Next Gen is fully loaded with a 76-inch sleeper, and PACCAR Powertrain featuring a 510-hp PACCAR MX-13 engine, PACCAR TX-12 automated transmission and PACCAR DX-40 rear axles.
Don Blake, a member of TAT’s Board of Directors and the new truck sales manager for Inland Kenworth Phoenix, said, “I think this year’s auction for the Everyday Heroes truck will be our best yet. There’s been a lot of interest in the T680 Next Gen, and we expect a good bidder turnout.”
Blake’s leadership in the Everyday Heroes truck project has resulted in substantial contributions to TAT. The 2017 truck raised $83,000, and the 2019 version contributed $162,000.
Ninety representatives from the trucking, transit, truck stop and casino industries, along with representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement and government agencies, attended a TAT Coalition Build in early November in Bloomington, Illinois. This group of public and private sector representatives learned about the realities of human trafficking in Illinois and ways to work together effectively to combat it. TAT provided targeted action steps for everyone, as well as free training materials for industry members and law enforcement to use within their companies and agencies. While follow up is ongoing, there are many additional training opportunities currently being discussed as a result of this event.
Survivor-Leader and TAT Training Specialist Beth Jacobs presented at the Illinois Coalition Build.
TAT, the Illinois State Police, the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force and the Illinois Trucking Association co-hosted the event. “This program was amazing,” commented one officer from the Lincoln Police Department. “I have been in law enforcement for over 25 years, and we have had several ‘prostitution-related’ incidents that, had we known this information years ago, maybe we could have done something different. I just wanted to say thank you. I am going to work with my department to bring the training back to us and have everyone go through it.”
Dressember 2021 has officially started! Dressember is a 31-day style challenge benefiting anti-trafficking programs around the world, including Truckers Against Trafficking and its program, Busing on the Lookout (BOTL). Wear a dress (or a tie!) every day this month to help raise funds that Dressember will distribute to select organizations in 2022.
Last year, BOTL’s partner in New Jersey, Panorama Tours, Inc., joined Dressember’s 2020 campaign! “We were so proud to support Busing on the Lookout and show our commitment to combating human trafficking through participating in the Dressember campaign,” said Michelle Zak Petelick, president of Panorama Tours, Inc. “In addition to training all of Panorama Tours’ drivers on how to recognize and report signs of trafficking, the Dressember campaign was a fun way to raise awareness and reminded us daily that we each have an important role to play.”
Additionally, Panorama Tours, Inc. fights human trafficking by BOTL training all their drivers. They also participated in TAT’s Bus and Casino Coalition Build in August.
In the past couple of months, TAT has welcomed three new members to its staff: Brandy Belton, Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) director, Hillary Benanzer, data analyst, and Amanda Haggerty, data administration specialist.
As FDP director, Belton’s background — including 20 years at Walmart working in five stores in two states, first as a sales associate and finishing as a co-manager — will come in handy with the communications and logistics skills acquired.
“I am so grateful to be included on the TAT team,” she stated. “Learning how important it is to effectively communicate TAT’s message to as many people as possible is what I strive to accomplish. Human trafficking is a horrific crime that needs more attention in order to alleviate human beings from becoming victims of modern-day slavery.”
Benanzer works across departments to help improve TAT’s access to, collection of and use of data. She graduated from Ohio University in 2020 with a BA degree in psychology and then completed an MS degree from the University of Cincinnati in criminal justice. She has prior data collection and research experience within the fields of human trafficking, psychology, and human judgement and decision-making.
“I joined the TAT team because of this organization’s dedication to activating the bystander and finding new approaches to combat human trafficking,” Benanzer said. “TAT is an organization that constantly searches for additional ways to help victims of human trafficking, and it is exciting to collect data that furthers this cause.”
As a data administration specialist, Haggerty brings her years of experience working with nonprofits to help TAT get the most from its information systems. In this role, Haggerty manages TAT’s websites and Salesforce database, as well as works with every member of the TAT team to streamline their program data and tasks.
Passionate about science and technology, Haggerty explained, “I was excited when I saw a position open at TAT, because not only did it fit my skills, but I could work for an incredibly effective organization that is helping people see those who society has neglected and forgotten.”
UPS has been named the winner of the 2021 TAT Champion Award in the Organization Category. Kendis Paris, executive director of Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), presented the award to Lou Rivieccio, UPS Corporate Transportation president, and Nikki Clifton, president of UPS Social Impact and The UPS Foundation, at a luncheon at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference and Exhibition Oct. 25 in Nashville, Tennessee.
The fight against the injustice of human trafficking is the work of thousands of dedicated and committed people taking place on continents and in countries around the world. Without the support, commitment and actions of the organizations, associations and state agency partners TAT works with, the gains made in the fight against human trafficking in the United States would take a huge leap backward. Each year, therefore, TAT recognizes and honors the outstanding creative, innovative, generous and dedicated efforts of specific partners, whose actions have significantly helped to engage more members of the industries TAT works with, as well as the efforts of more agencies and organizations within their state and the nation, in the fight to end the crime of human trafficking.
UPS began its partnership with TAT in 2016. But, in addition to its work with TAT, which includes being a TAT sponsor at the highest – North Star — level, training more than 100,000 of their drivers, donating over 40 hauls for TAT’s mobile museum to events across the nation, allowing employees to be involved in numerous capacities with TAT on company time to spread awareness of human trafficking and the fight against it and serving on TAT’s Board of Directors since 2012, UPS also uses its influence through the trucking industry to encourage other companies to become TAT trained.
“When we say that UPS is a ‘north star’ partner of TAT, no exaggeration is implied,” explained Paris. “They truly help to guide our work, by marshaling their resources on behalf of counter-trafficking initiatives, providing thought leadership, and supporting their drivers’ changemaking volunteerism. In doing so, they serve as a social-good exemplar to others in private industry, and we’re thrilled to name them our 2021 TAT Champion Award winners!”
UPS has adopted an enterprise-wide anti-trafficking-in-persons policy, which strictly prohibits the use of any UPS assets or resources for any purpose that would enable the trafficking of persons. They partner with the DHS Blue Campaign and teamed up with Wellspring, a Georgia-based survivor’s advocacy program, to provide employment opportunities to survivors of human trafficking.
UPS is also leveraging the power of corporate philanthropy to invest in organizations like the United Way Worldwide’s Center on Human Trafficking and Slavery and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. That partnership employs a comprehensive and ground-breaking approach which convenes community leaders – including relief and human service agencies, medical providers, local government, employers, advocates, citizens and more – around the singular issue of fighting local human trafficking, in many cases, for the first time. Through this collaboration, they’re identifying needs and gaps at the community level, including housing, services, training and policy.
Additionally, UPS employees have donated more than $5 million toward the Anti-Human Traffick Impact Fund through United Way Center on Human Trafficking and Slavery.
In many public forums and presentations, UPS leadership use the opportunities they’re given to educate others on what they can do to join the fight. A TED Talk given by Clifton, detailing three ways businesses can fight human trafficking and personalize their efforts through their own “special sauce,” has now been seen by more than a million people.
Clifton shared, “Our work with TAT aligns with UPS’s purpose to move our world forward on delivering what matters. We are honored to accept this award and are proud to say that UPS drivers are part of the everyday heroes keeping communities safe by identifying and reporting red flags of human trafficking networks.”
For the first time in its history, the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) attended the American Trucking Associations Management Conference and Exhibition (ATA MCE). Dressed in its new trailer wrap, the FDP attracted close to a hundred people who toured its exhibits, as well as many more in productive conversations.
“We’re so grateful for our partnership with the ATA,” stated Brandy Belton, FDP director. “With such a comprehensive agenda for this event, it was wonderful of them to not only give us a platform to present our TAT Champion Award, but also to donate space for the FDP to attend. This conference is attended by so many influential industry members that we appreciate the opportunity to take part in a significant way.”
A TAT sponsor for five years, Howes Products is serious about increasing human trafficking awareness. In the past few months, they have inducted TAT into the Howes Hall of Fame as the first inductee of 2021; they’ve arranged for TAT to be interviewed on two significant trucker radio shows as well as written up in print media; they’ve increased their TAT sponsorship level from Silver to Gold, making sure their donation is given in time for TAT’s $120,000 matching grant fundraiser; and they’ve used their influence in Rhode Island to talk about TAT to their own customers and their state’s CDL schools.
“We are truly honored and inspired by our induction into the Howes Hall of Fame,” said Kylla Lanier, TAT’s deputy director. “This is one more way in which our partners at Howes have shown their dedication to raising awareness about human trafficking and leveraging their networks on TAT’s behalf. Throughout the years we’ve worked with Howes, their heart for the victims of this crime has been evident both at a personal and corporate level. With more and more truckers getting involved each day, we genuinely appreciate the recognition by Howes, as it shines a light that will serve to draw in even more drivers, growing our network of eyes and ears even further in pursuit of our goal to eradicate human trafficking.”
“We are in awe of the incredible work being done by Truckers Against Trafficking and are truly honored to induct them into our Howes Hall of Fame,” commented Erika Howes, VP of Business Development at Howes Products. “With around 3,000 hotline calls having been made and over 1,300 victims having been identified so far, it is easy to see the real impact Truckers Against Trafficking is making. We invite everyone in the trucking and related industries to take action, get certified and become an everyday hero.”
The Howes Hall of Fame serves as a platform for Howes to acknowledge and thank all the great work that has, and does, go into the trucking and agricultural industries. With the goal of recognizing unique achievements across a broad spectrum of categories, the Hall provides a showcase that will live on for generations. The Howes Hall of Fame officially launched in 2020 as part of the Howes Family’s celebration of 100 years in business. It can be viewed now at www.howesproducts.com/HOF.
A standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 people gathered in Meridian, Idaho on Oct. 7 for TAT’s first Coalition Build (CB) in that state.
Co-hosted by the Idaho Trucking Association, Idaho State Police, Canyon County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho Transportation Department and TAT, the event drew Idaho Governor Brad Little and worked to help participants identify ways to partner together to combat human trafficking. Participants included law enforcement, government personnel and key industry representatives from trucking, bus and transit, along with employees from social service agencies.
As a result of the CB, law enforcement, industry and local transit agencies have committed to training their staff over the next few months. The Boise Police Department will be sharing materials from TAT and Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) with local bus and trucking companies, and Debbie Maxwell, from Treasure Valley Transit, held a training later in the month, which included members from the Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition. Maxwell said, “Treasure Valley Transit is committed to dedicating a portion of each safety meeting over the next year to human trafficking awareness.”
Idaho has already adopted the full Iowa MVE model. The Idaho Transportation Department stocks ports of entry with TAT materials, and the Idaho Department of Education is introducing all bus drivers to BOTL materials by coordinating with the proper agencies.
Survey results generated positive comments about the speakers and the effectiveness of the training.
Colonialism has been a major contributing factor to the presence and growth of human trafficking in Canada, especially among the Indigenous population, according to the 2019-2020 report on human trafficking published by the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking.
To explore this topic, TAT hosted a virtual webinar on Oct. 26 called Connecting the Dots, with speakers and panelists which included Indigenous survivors and those who work directly with this population. Speaking at the webinar were Candice Shaw, executive director of the Ottawa Rape Crisis Center (ORCC), and Shelagh Roxburgh, senior analyst for the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, with panel members Kayla Spagnoli and Veronica Spade from Minwaashin Lodge, and Bryanna Brown, survivor-advocate.
One of the 109 webinar participants, Kavita Ambu, the Safety and Compliance Administration supervisor for Wesbell Logistics, said, “I believe the panel that presented today did an exceptional job of recognizing that colonialism and Indigenous rights are still something we are fighting against today. They also reframed the lens through which individuals may view Indigenous peoples, based on a bias that may have been taught to them at an early age through history books/education systems. They recognized that violence towards the Indigenous community has deep roots, but it is possible for change … and to realize that trafficking is not just what you see in movies/tv-shows; it could be something as modern as getting an invitation to network in the modeling industry through your Instagram DMS. It does not just have to be getting picked up on the side of the road, but instead can be using technology and social media to access and target vulnerable populations easily. Therefore, it is now more important than ever to recognize the signs of trafficking and be aware of the resources available to you.”
When surveyed, 100 percent of participants said they learned more about some of the unique challenges Indigenous survivors face and that they’d recommend the training to others. The action steps they’d consider taking included continuing to learn about indigenous experiences and colonialism, sharing this information with their company or agency, considering supporting local indigenous organizations and advocating for government to implement the TRC and MMIWG calls.
Speakers and panelists provided information from personal experience and resources including the UCLA Law Review, Human Rights Watch and the Canadian Journal of Women and Law. They shared action steps people can take, such as ONN – 5 ways your nonprofit can take action now to support Indigenous communities and TVO – Five ways you can put the ‘calls for justice’ from the MMIWG report into action. But Roxburgh stressed, “Though many people may be asking for clearer direction regarding what they can do, the reality is that much of the work has to begin with learning and unlearning. As is often stressed, truth comes before reconciliation, so, overall, my recommendation is to emphasize education and reflection over action as the starting point.”
Resources they recommended included Imagining a Better Future: An Introduction to Teaching and Learning about Settler Colonialism in Canada, Fem North Net – Colonialism and its impacts, KAIROS MMIWG Info-Hub – Films and Documentaries, National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Institutional, Knowledge Keeper & Expert Hearings and 16 resources to help settlers understand and advance Indigenous reconciliation.
At Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), truck drivers are celebrated year-round, but especially during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. Truck drivers, a number of whom have won TAT’s Harriet Tubman Award, compose an enormous part of a mobile army of transportation professionals recognizing and reporting human trafficking. In addition, they respond to every national and local emergency by moving supplies, equipment, goods and whatever is needed from coast to coast. They regularly provide the stock for shelves in all stores, deliver our packages and keep businesses running and individuals supplied with all we need.
These men and women, many of whom have had several careers in their lives and have experience and skills in multiple fields, have not only expanded the depth and breadth of TAT’s endeavors through making calls to law enforcement when they’ve suspected trafficking, resulting in the recovery of survivors and the arrest of perpetrators, but they’ve also:
This year, for National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, Sept. 12-18, TAT dedicated the entire week on social media to recognize and appreciate truckers and gave away more than 30 prizes, including Bluetooth headphones from Blue Tiger, jackets from Bandag/Bridgestone, Visa and Subway cards from TAT and TAT t-shirts. Those posts received over 100,000 engagements throughout the week, with appreciative comments like:
“Thank God for all truck drivers that are putting their lives on the line for others. We love y’all and are praying for your safety.”
“Thank you; all you folks do a job that’s difficult and, at times, dangerous. Please stay safe out there.”
“I thank truckers every day. Without you, we would have nothing. Thank you, Truckers, and your families. I know you miss your loved ones, but I bet you’re doing it for us. God bless; drive safe.”
“When we were considering the recipient for the state agency category of our TAT Champion Award, we wanted to honor one of our very first law enforcement partners who took on the TAT mission and made it their own,” Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, stated in her presentation remarks at the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Annual Conference in Wilmington, Delaware at the end of August.
She continued, “Under the initial inspired leadership of Captain Mike Crispin, now Chief of the Whitehall Police, followed by the leadership of Captain Dave Allwine, and now through the continued partnership with Captain Ray Martin, we are excited to announce that the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) Motor Carrier Enforcement Division is the recipient of the 2021 TAT Champion Award in the State Agency Category.”
OSHP was an early adopter of TAT’s Iowa MVE Model. They have continued to maintain their full adoption of the six core elements. Beyond that, Ohio became the first state in the country to require anti-trafficking training to be added to the curriculum at CDL schools throughout their state. They hosted TAT’s Freedom Drivers Project at their state fair and staffed it with officers in order to raise awareness about human trafficking.
In addition to creating a transportation coalition to combat trafficking in Ohio, which included trucking, transit, taxis and truck stops, resulting in widespread TAT training across modes, Chief Crispen appears in TAT’s law enforcement video, educating his fellow officers about the indicators of human trafficking.
Ohio was among the original three states to have a joint human trafficking awareness operation every January, and OSHP continues to participate in what has become a week-long Quad-State human trafficking initiative alongside Michigan, Illinois and Indiana.
TAT team members have been hosted at OSHP headquarters to provide training to their officers. OSHP and TAT have participated in and presented at the annual human trafficking conference in Ohio that is sponsored by members of the state senate.
OSHP also uses asset forfeiture funds to pay for TAT materials which they use throughout their state, and they also collect data on interdiction stops that turn into human trafficking cases.
The annual conference and exhibition of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) also included the first in-person meeting of CVSA’s Human Trafficking Prevention Program.
Chairing the program are Chief David Lorenzen, director of the Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement of the Iowa Department of Transportation; Lt. Col Mike Krumm of the Michigan State Patrol; Jake Elvorita, CVSA liaison; and Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director.
“The collaboration amongst the states, Canada and Mexico is unprecedented as we join together to fight human trafficking through the commercial vehicle industry,” Krumm said. “Without the defined focus of groups like Truckers Against Trafficking and the leadership of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance this could not have been possible. “
Krumm and Lanier both mentioned how exciting it was to see the national support around the meeting and the plans for a three-day commercial vehicle initiative this coming January, focused on raising awareness to help fight human trafficking. Canada will follow suit with their event in February.
At the meeting, a number of state agencies shared their best practices of how they are spreading the word about human trafficking and TAT.
“What Chief Lorenzen started in Iowa (with the Iowa MVE Model) several years ago has now grown to a national program,” concluded Krumm.
Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) had the opportunity at the end of September to help the Native American community gain a better understanding of human trafficking and how it impacts tribal communities in the United States.
At the virtual National Transportation in Indian Country Conference (NTICC), BOTL staff organized a session, called Tribal Transit on the Lookout to Combat Human Trafficking, identified and coordinated the panelists, and moderated/presented on the panel. The session provided basic information about human trafficking, including the crime’s connection to certain vulnerability factors and other issues of importance to tribal communities. Attendees learned from tribal transit managers about their anti-trafficking efforts and heard insights from a survivor services/victim advocate perspective on ways in which transit employees may be coming into contact with human trafficking victims and how they can make a difference. Additionally, attendees learned about free resources they could take back with them to train their drivers and other employees on how to recognize and report signs of trafficking they may be seeing in the course of their everyday jobs.
Speaking at the session were:
NTICC is the one-stop-shop transportation conference for tribes, by tribes. It offers access to relevant training and an opportunity for Tribal transportation professionals to engage with federal officials and their Tribal transportation peers regarding Tribal transportation issues and challenges.
“Human trafficking is a major issue of concern for tribal communities throughout the United States,” said Neil Rodriguez, member of the conference planning committee and Tribal Transit Program manager for the National Rural Transit Assistance Program, “and ensuring that transit providers are aware of the issue and know the steps they can take to respond to it is critical to the safety and wellbeing of those communities.”
To continue bringing awareness of human trafficking to all its employees, UPS hosted the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) on the fifth-floor rooftop of its New York City location, as well as its Secaucus, New Jersey location, in late July.
In preparation for the New York City event, UPS provided staff a webinar about TAT and the FDP prior to the exhibit’s arrival to encourage them to tour and to volunteer at the event. More than 500 drivers, mechanics, operators, dispatch, engineers, directors and managers toured the FDP over the course of two days with 30 employees volunteering at the FDP itself.
Prior to the tours beginning, UPS held a ceremony for more than 60 drivers and staff. Along with Helen Hofer, FDP director, UPS dignitaries at the ceremony included Brian Cannon, president of the North Atlantic District; Nikki Clifton, president of Social Impact and The UPS Foundation; Ray Barczak, president of the East Region Corporate Transport; and Kesha Sylvester, North Atlantic District Feeder director.
While speaking at the ceremony, Barczak announced that UPS will train all their feeder drivers with TAT materials before the end of October. That training began the next day at the New Jersey location.
Attendees demonstrated amazement as they toured the FDP, making comments like, “I didn’t think was real” and “I didn’t know half of what you had in there.” Another UPS employee stated, “It was a very informative presentation … we (feeder drivers) are out there in force and are willing to help. I have two daughters myself (13 & 15), so this hits close to home. Again, thank you to you and your team for coming out and bringing this to our attention; we will do our part to try to put an end to this horrible situation.”
Hofer said, “I was reminded of the power of the exhibit when shared with the drivers who are on the front lines of recognizing and reporting trafficking. Drivers leading each other through the exhibit and emphasizing the critical role they have to play in the fight against human trafficking; managers wanting to share the FDP with other terminals in their region and taking materials to make sure everyone is equipped and empowered to recognize and report trafficking. Glad we could reach new heights in so many ways.”
UPS also included TAT as an option for employees to donate to as part of their United Way Giving Campaign held in August.
Throughout the summer, Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) focused on training bus drivers to recognize human trafficking in preparation for the 2021/2022 school year and on providing awareness of the vulnerability factors which contribute to victimization by traffickers.
BOTL Program Specialist Lexi Higgins trained more than 1,800 members of the bus industry through:
Higgins also joined the Dave Nemo Show with guest, Alia Dewees, survivor-leader and director of Aftercare Development at Safe House Project, for a special Back-to-School episode. On that episode, Dewees reflected on how she continued to go to school while being trafficked and, even though she felt like the teachers and counselors at school were worried about her and wanted to help, their lack of human trafficking training was a barrier to being able to see and understand what was happening to her.
Additionally, BOTL hosted a four-part webinar series focused on some of the vulnerability factors that traffickers may prey upon. The series, which featured guest presenters and addressed the topics of LGBTQ+ identity, homelessness, immigration and the child welfare system, was attended by BOTL partners in school transportation, transit, motorcoach, casinos and law enforcement from 36 states. A majority of webinar participants – 88.4 percent – who responded to the survey said the session they attended increased their knowledge of human trafficking.
For more on BOTL’s work with school transportation, visit https://truckersagainsttrafficking.org/school-transportation/. To learn how you can get involved – and to help make sure the school bus drivers in your community are BOTL trained – check out BOTL’s School Transportation Outreach Kit with step-by-step guidance on how to introduce BOTL to your school district, available at https://truckersagainsttrafficking.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/BOTL-School-Transportation-Outreach-Kit.pdf.
GCR, the commercial tire and service network owned and operated by Bridgestone Americas, Inc., has joined TDP, the TAT Dealership Program, as a Diamond-Level sponsor. Their fleet of more than 500 trucks all sport the TAT window decal, and their employees have been or are training with TAT materials. On Aug. 18, the GCR facility in Commerce City, Colorado hosted the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP), so customers and employees could receive additional training through the exhibit’s artifacts and displays. This is the first time the FDP has been invited to a tire dealership.
Allan Cieniuch, East Mountain regional manager for GCR Tires, commented, “Overall the event was a tremendous success. We had support from vendors, a food truck, and over 60 customers attended throughout the day. This was an eye opening and powerful event; TAT did a great job of having impactful conversations with all who attended.”
“Bridgestone is proud to stand with Truckers Against Trafficking in the fight against human trafficking,” added Steve Hoeft, COO of Dealer Operations and GCR Tires and Service at Bridgestone America. “As a global leader in tires and advanced mobility solutions, safety is a core value of our company. We are committed to training our employees and customers on this important issue, so that they are empowered to take action to help end human trafficking once and for all.”
The Tire Industry Association also recently announced its partnership with TAT. In that announcement, TIA Board Member T. J. Trum said, “Today, I am extremely proud that our industry has unequivocally stated in one voice that it does not tolerate human trafficking in our communities.” TIA’s commitment will amplify the mission and voice of Truckers Against Trafficking by reaching and training more TIA members. It is very possible that someone in the TIA network could very well be the difference-maker that brings a victim of human trafficking home and an offender to justice.”
As a partner, TIA will help get the word out to association members, their customers and the tire industry at large, encouraging them to get involved in the effort to stop human trafficking.
“As a resource to the trucking, bus and energy industries, TAT believes the tire industry locations are influential distribution points for the anti-human trafficking message if this movement is to continue to grow,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “We are excited about our partnerships with GCR and TIA and are extremely hopeful that their efforts will result in a host of TAT Dealership Partners all across the nation.”
Jessica Chapman, a Sapp Bros. Travel Center cashier in Junction City, Kansas, is the 2021 winner of TAT’s highest award — the Harriet Tubman Award presented by Protective Insurance.
The Harriet Tubman Award presented by Protective Insurance is named in honor of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, whose courageous personal actions resulted in the transportation of 300 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad and whose overall role in the freedom movement was instrumental in the freeing of thousands more. Born into slavery in 1820, Miss Tubman was the first African American woman buried with full military honors and the first to have the inaugural Liberty ship named after her – the SS Harriet Tubman – by the US Maritime Commission.
Earlier this year, Chapman noticed a woman in the travel center who seemed distressed. Seeing a man near her, Chapman caught the woman’s eye and asked her if she was all right. The woman approached Chapman and acknowledged that she wasn’t. Because the man was in the store, and so as not to arouse suspicion, Chapman took down a rewards application and acted like she was helping the woman fill it out, all the while gathering information about the situation in order to call law enforcement. Her quick and very intelligent response led to the arrest of the man, and allowed the woman, who had been sexually exploited, to get to a safe place.
“Jessica’s quick thinking and immediate actions on behalf of the victim of sexual exploitation are indicative of what this award is all about,” enthused Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “Her TAT training, combined with empathy and courage, are exactly what that woman needed that night. We are humbled and grateful to be presenting Jessica with our 2021 Harriet Tubman Award.”
“The training from Sapp Bros. about human trafficking helped me recognize something was wrong, and then my instincts took over. I was just really glad I could help. I’m very appreciative to win the 2021 Harriet Tubman Award,” said Chapman.
The award, which carries with it a $2500 check, was presented at a fiftieth anniversary celebration for Sapp Bros. at their headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska on July 29. Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, who attended the event, honored Chapman in her remarks, as well as Sapp Bros., for their work to combat sexual exploitation and their commitment as a TAT partner.
Sapp Bros has worked with law enforcement, as well as Truckers against Trafficking, to raise awareness through trainings offered to their customer base and their employees and to develop protocols for how to respond to this crime and its victims. Through their Help Now campaign, they have also supported TAT’s mission financially and have created signage found around their properties that raises awareness about human trafficking and that Sapp Bros is committed to help end it.
During the event, Sapp Bros. CEO Andy Richard presented TAT with a check for $65,000, raised through their ongoing fundraising efforts at their stores and through their staff. Recognition was given to the top fundraising stores and individuals.
The Florida Trucking Association (FTA) received the 2021 TAT Champion Award in the Association Category at their annual conference in Orlando on July 23.
Ken Armstrong, outgoing FTA president and CEO, accepted the award on behalf of the FTA leadership from TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier. In announcing the award, Lanier said, “The Florida Trucking Association has been one of our staunchest supporters in the fight against human trafficking, taking this issue on as their own and making it a priority. Through every avenue available to them, they have leveraged their influence on TAT’s behalf to help build an army of eyes and ears on our roadways to recognize and report this crime.”
The fight against the injustice of human trafficking is the work of thousands of dedicated and committed people taking place on continents and in countries around the world. Without the support, commitment and actions of the organizations, associations and state agency partners TAT works with, the gains made in the fight against human trafficking in the United States would take a huge leap backward. Each year, therefore, TAT recognizes and honors the outstanding creative, innovative, generous and dedicated efforts of specific partners, whose actions have significantly helped to engage more members of the industries TAT works with, as well as the efforts of more agencies and organizations within their state and the nation, in the fight to end the crime of human trafficking.
Examples of the FTA’s work with TAT includes:
“Florida Trucking Association is honored to receive the TAT Champion Award this year,” said Alix Miller, FTA president and CEO. “Our members are committed to train employees to spot human trafficking victims and help put an end to this horrific crime. We look forward to continuing our work with Truckers Against Trafficking as we advocate for and protect victims.”
A $10,000 matching grant, provided to TAT by Love’s Financial, raised over $52,000 during the last week of July. The grant time period ran one week, ending July 30, designated World Day Against Trafficking in Persons by the United Nations.
Since human trafficking takes place in every nation, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons in 2010, urging governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to defeat this scourge. Three years later, during a meeting to appraise the plan, July 30 received the designation of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. This resolution declared that such a day was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
“Truckers Against Trafficking is such an important organization, and we’re happy to support its mission,” said Neely Campbell Thomas, director of Love’s Financial. “We’d like to thank them for the work they do in educating people, as well as our customers who donated generously.”
Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores has partnered with TAT since 2013, participating in TAT Coalition Builds and providing financial support as a sponsor.
For the fourth time since 2016, TAT’s Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) attended the Walcott Truckers Jamboree at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop July 8-10. An estimated 44,500 drivers, their families and local residents attended the event, with visitors arriving from 22 different states and three Canadian provinces to display their trucks. During the three days, guests enjoyed over 150 exhibits, a fantastic antique truck display with more than 100 vehicles, a trucker olympics, a pet contest, free concerts and a truck light show among other activities.
“It took a pandemic for the rest of the country to realize what we’ve known all along — professional drivers are essential to our everyday lives, and they deserve to be celebrated. That’s exactly what the Walcott Truckers Jamboree is all about,” explained Delia Moon Meier, senior vice president, Iowa 80 Group.
Over 1,700 people toured the FDP to learn about the realities of domestic sex trafficking and what they can do to discover and disrupt it. They chatted with members of the Iowa DOT Motor Vehicle Enforcement (MVE) group, as well as TAT staff, received TAT materials and were offered temporary TAT tattoos.
“It was great for us to be able to assist Trucker’s Against Trafficking with educating drivers and the public at the Walcott Jamboree this year,” shared Captain Scott Knudston, Iowa DOT MVE.
“We support the important work that Truckers Against Trafficking does in training truck drivers and working with law enforcement. Education is key and the FDP trailer is a great tool,” commented Heather Dee Baillie, Marketing vice president, Iowa 80 Group.
“We had a great time at the Jamboree and want to thank the Iowa 80 folks for providing FDP space free of charge, as well as the wonderful Iowa MVE volunteers that worked around the clock ushering folks through,” said Susan Dold, TAT systems administrator.
Captain Knudston (standing in doorway) and Captain Steele of the Iowa DOT MVE volunteered at the FDP and spoke to Jamboree attendees about human trafficking and TAT.
Trafficking victims can and do come from all racial and ethnic groups. In a 2013 study by Portland State University, researchers analyzed cases of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) in the Portland Metro Area from 2009 through 2013. They found that 27.1 percent of victims were African American, while African Americans made up only 5.8 percent of the county’s population. The more we know about what human trafficking really looks like, the better we’ll be able to recognize a victim and make the call. Race does play a role.
Source: Portland State University
Board of Directors elects three new members
A law enforcement officer, a transportation executive and a professional OTR (over the road) truck driver are the latest members elected to the TAT Board of Directors.
Chief Tommie J. Reese Sr., the state law enforcement coordinator for the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, began his law enforcement career with the Alabama Department of Public Safety in 1985. Two years later, he joined the Demopolis Police Department as a patrolman. From 1991-2009, he served in the Marengo County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy sheriff, chief deputy sheriff and assistant sheriff. He was appointed chief of police for the City of Demopolis in early 2009. In December 2017, he was appointed as the public safety director, expanding his oversight to include both the Demopolis police and fire departments. He assumed his current position in December 2018.
He is a graduate of the distinguished FBI National Academy Session 210th Quantico, VA., and SLEDS. He has been recognized as a Certified Chief of Police by the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police and as a Certified Law Enforcement Executive by the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission. He served two elected terms as the president of the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police and has served as the president of the Alabama Peace Officers Association. He was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for the International Association of Chiefs of Police and has been serving as the Board Chairman for the Marengo County E-911 Communications System since 2011. Chief Reese has served as a deacon at the Saint Paul Baptist Church in Demopolis, Alabama for over 20 years and as the minister of music over 40 years. He continues to serve on numerous other boards and commissions.
Lou Rivieccio, Corporate Transportation president, is responsible for overseeing UPS Transportation Operations for the U.S., comprised of 125,000 employees. Prior to his current role, which he assumed this year, Rivieccio served as president of UPS Europe. There he was based in Brussels, led more than 49,000 employees and was responsible for all UPS business and operations in nearly 60 countries and territories across Europe, including small-package delivery, freight forwarding, and logistics and distribution. Europe is UPS’s largest non-U.S. region, accounting for approximately half of the company’s international revenue. Under his leadership, the Europe Region delivered record margins and profit.
A native of New York, Rivieccio joined UPS in 1984 as a part-time employee in package operations. He then went on to hold a series of operations and management positions in North America before becoming president of UPS Europe in 2018. These included vice president of operations for UPS Canada, president of the Northern Plains District, president of the Ohio Valley District and president of the UPS East Region. As president of the UPS East Region, he provided strategic direction for approximately 175,000 employees in 26 states.
Antoine Sadler has been a transportation professional for almost 30 years. For the past 17 years, he has driven for Walmart Transportation, where he is also a member of the elite Walmart Road Team. As part of his Walmart duties, he is a driver trainer, driver mentor, a member of the safety team and is TAT certified. Additionally, Sadler is a member of the North Carolina Road Team and the North Carolina Trucking Association. Civic-minded, Sadler works with organizations including Samaritan’s Feet, schools in Cleveland County and Gaston County, City of Kings Mountain and Truckers Against Trafficking. He has been featured in several videos, including a human trafficking documentary in Texas called Be the One.
IBTTA joining the fight against human trafficking
The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), the worldwide association for the owners and operators of toll facilities and the businesses that serve them, brought together a panel of experts for a webinar in June to discuss the scope of human trafficking and the specific things tolling industry professionals can do to help.
Titled Making an Impact in the Fight Against Human Trafficking, the panel presentation featured Julie Abraham, director of the Office of International Transportation and Trade, U.S. Department of Transportation; Yassmin Gramian, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; Megan Cutter, director of the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Polaris; and Kendis Paris, executive director of Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). The event was sponsored by IBTTA Women in Tolling and WTS International, whose mission is to advance transportation and the professional women in it.
During the event, participants were given the opportunity to donate to TAT, and this fundraising effort brought in $2275.
Paris commented, “When it comes to recognizing and reporting potential victims of human trafficking, toll operators can play a critical role if properly educated and equipped to do so. We applaud the IBTTA and the WTS for hosting this webinar in an effort to bring this topic to light and activate their membership.”
Paris encourages all IBTTA members to train their employees with TAT’s state agency webinar and toolkit and then suggests they might want to turn their turnpike into an anti-trafficking awareness campaign, which is what TravelBoards, Inc., working with the Ohio Turnpike Commission, chose to do. Using backlit signs and digital advertising at toll signage and travel plazas, TAT graphics and information are up throughout turnpikes in the state.
“When we came across a media piece describing how the trucking industry can make a difference in both raising awareness of human trafficking and as a call to action, we contacted TAT, because of its focus on truck drivers. Truckers are the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways, and the presence of toll plazas and service plazas on turnpikes presents a unique opportunity to reach tens of millions of drivers each year,” explained Garry Evans of TravelBoards, Inc.
“We would love to work with any turnpike in this effort,” Paris said, “and we can co-brand the signage, just like we did in Ohio.”
TAT delivers law enforcement training in Kansas
On the road again providing law enforcement trainings, TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier and Training Specialist and Survivor-Leader Annika Huff co-taught two four-hour trainings in Salina, Kansas in June to 35 officers from the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP), one officer from the Finney County Sheriff’s Office, and another from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office.
Kansas has already achieved full implementation of TAT’s Iowa MVE model, but as a result of the trainings, the relationship between TAT and KHP is stronger, with troopers committing to visit truck stops and bus terminals in their area with TAT materials.
One officer commented, “Thank you very much for your time and passion in the issues of human/sex trafficking. Like I said during one of our breaks, your team held the attention of an all-male audience of law enforcement officers, which can be hard to do some times. Well done. The information presented kept me engaged the entire time. Next thing I knew you were telling us to fill out your survey and turn them in.”
Speaking about Huff, another officer said, “I have no words … I put her at the same level as a U.S. soldier, as far as bravery and courage are concerned. I pray for continued healing. Keep fighting the good fight. Great presentation.”
Survey results showed:
UPS leads the way as TAT’s first North Star Sponsor
UPS began a partnership with TAT in 2016 and has repeatedly proven its commitment to be a leader in the transportation sector in the fight against human trafficking. UPS is TAT’s first North Star sponsor with a $250,000 donation.
“We’re so grateful to UPS for all they do to fight human trafficking. They advance TAT’s work and influence exponentially,” declared Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “From training their drivers, to hauling our Freedom Drivers Project to events across the nation and then manning the exhibit once it arrives, to strong anti-trafficking-in-persons policy adoption and using their influence to spread the word and bring more partners to TAT, to their incredible financial support of our mission … let alone all of the other anti-trafficking work they do to affect systems change within the broader abolitionist movement … they truly are a ‘north star,’ an incredible industry leader in this field and outstanding partners.”
In addition to their work with TAT, which includes training well over 100,000 drivers in the United States and Canada and their consistent and insightful involvement on TAT’s Board of Directors, UPS strives to keep employees aware of this issue in multiple ways. They’ve also adopted an enterprise-wide anti-trafficking-in-persons policy, which strictly prohibits the use of any UPS assets or resources for any purpose that would enable the trafficking of persons. They partner with the DHS Blue Campaign and teamed up with Wellspring, a Georgia-based survivor’s advocacy program, to provide employment opportunities to survivors of human trafficking.
UPS is also leveraging the power of corporate philanthropy to invest in organizations like the United Way Worldwide’s Center on Human Trafficking and Slavery and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. That partnership employs a comprehensive and ground-breaking approach which convenes community leaders – including relief and human service agencies, medical providers, local government, employers, advocates, citizens and more – around the singular issue of fighting local human trafficking, in many cases, for the first time. Through this collaboration, they’re identifying needs and gaps at the community level, including housing, services, training and policy.
Additionally, UPS employees have donated more than $5 million toward the Anti-Human Traffick Impact Fund through United Way Center on Human Trafficking & Slavery.
In many public forums and presentations, UPS leadership use the opportunities they’re given to educate others on what they can do to join the fight. A TED Talk given by Nikki Clifton, UPS Social Impact and The UPS Foundation president, detailing three ways businesses can fight human trafficking and personalize their efforts through their own “special sauce,” has now been seen by more than a million people.
La’Kerri Jackson, director of Social Impact and The UPS Foundation, said, “Human trafficking is a horrific crime, too often affecting youth and women. Since partnering with TAT, we’ve been able to implement training that has empowered more than 100,000 UPS drivers in the U.S. to save those in dangerous situations. Together, we are empowering our drivers to put the brakes on human trafficking one day at a time.”
Allied Universal partners with TAT to offer human trafficking training to security professionals
Allied Universal, one of the world’s largest private security companies, has joined forces with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) to offer TAT’s online training for law enforcement to more than 300,000 security professionals in the United States and Canada. The goal of this training is to make Allied Universal’s security forces more effective in recognizing and reporting human trafficking. The organization will also be offering TAT’s Empower Freedom and Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) training within its vertical markets for security professionals working in the energy and transit industries.
“Our security professionals are the eyes and ears of the world, who are on the front line of service each and every day,” said Brent O’Bryan, SVP of Training and Organizational Effectiveness at Allied Universal. “We are proud to align with Truckers Against Trafficking to ensure that our security professionals are expertly trained to recognize and combat human trafficking.”
Annie Sovcik, BOTL director, stated, “As we seek to train all bus and transit employees in the United States and Canada, reaching security professionals is critical. Transit security officers are uniquely positioned to come into contact with human trafficking victims, as traffickers recruit victims at transit centers and use transit in the furtherance of their illicit activities. As victims may seek out transportation hubs for safety or escape, a well-trained security professional may be their ticket to freedom. We are grateful to Allied Universal for making the BOTL training available to its transit security officers and hope other private security companies will follow their lead.”
“Security for the broader energy and petrochemical industry has traditionally been focused on protecting infrastructure and employees,” explained Ashley Smith, TAT’s director of Energy Operations. “With the introduction of the Empower Freedom training, Allied Universal security professionals can expand their protection to the communities in which they operate. Every employee and contractor within the industry has a role to play, and we invite security professionals to be a part of the front lines of this issue.”
Missouri State Highway Patrol runs two successful undercover operations
Sgt. Daniel Nash of the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) reported that during COVID, with the closure of casinos and some hotels and other hotels ramping up security and only letting in registered guests, truck stops became an even more significant funnel point for human trafficking activities.
As a result of TAT’s Sedalia, Missouri Coalition Build in 2019, the MSHP and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office Human Trafficking Task Force built a solid partnership with truck stops in the state, as did some of the local police departments who attended the event. Subsequently, departments like the Oak Grove Police Department began working more closely with their local truck stops and providing extra patrol.
On one such occasion at the Petro truck stop, Oak Grove Police made contact with a female that they recognized may be a trafficking victim. The Police Department called the MSHP for assistance. While the victim didn’t cooperate, officers did identify the possible trafficker. A few weeks later, after Oak Grove had a similar incident at another truck stop, they asked the MSHP and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office Human Trafficking Task Force to conduct a proactive operation. Both truck stops were completely supportive and offered their assistance. Beside MSHP, this operation included: AGO, FBI, IRS, HSI, U.S. Marshal’s, Johnson Co. SO, Jackson Co. SO, KCPD, St. Joseph PD, Independence PD, Oak Grove PD, MIAC, Kansas Highway Patrol, RISE Coalition and Central MO HT Coalition. Ten victims, two of which had potentially life-threatening medical conditions, were contacted, and all accepted services. Three children under five years old were taken into custody. Three arrests were made that night and one later. This created a deterrence effect as seen by online chatter.
Upon completion of the successful Oak Grove operation, St. Joseph PD contacted the MSHP and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office Human Trafficking Task Force advised they were having increased issues with truck stops in their city and asked for assistance with a similar operation in St. Joseph. That operation involved the MSHP and AGO, FBI, U.S. Marshal, Johnson Co. SO, Buchanan Co. SO, KCPD, St. Joseph PD, MIAC, Probation and Parole, Department of Corrections, RISE Coalition, Relentless Pursuit and YWCA St. Joseph. Eight victims were contacted, and all accepted services. Two children under three years old were secured and provided services. Three arrests were made that night and one additional arrest is pending. This created a deterrence effect due to media coverage. The Attorney General was present and very supportive of the operations.
Sgt. Nash said, “To me, the takeaway from this is that in Missouri we are all part of a team. The truck stops, law enforcement, agencies of all sizes, TAT and the human trafficking task force. When we all work together, we can make a difference in locating and rescuing victims and identifying and arresting traffickers. TAT did and does continue to play an important role in this team, and we appreciate your work and effort to partner with us. While we all agree that training is the foundation of all of this, we also believe you have to get out there and do the work, get the boots on the ground, get down and dirty, collect statistics, or put-up posters. So that’s why we work so hard on these types of operations; because without them, law enforcement is far less effective.”
Day & Ross, one of the fastest-growing and oldest providers of transportation solutions in North America, has become TAT’s first Freedom Driver level sponsor in Canada. With a fleet of trucks numbering in the thousands and more than 8,000 employees, Day & Ross is rolling out TAT training to all its drivers, which includes a formal announcement on their website and a video.
“Day & Ross was built by good people who are committed to doing good work,” said Bill Doherty, Day & Ross CEO. “As a North American transportation company, our drivers are uniquely positioned to join the fight against human trafficking and help keep our roads and rest stops safe. Our partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking reflects our ongoing commitment to doing good in the communities where we live, work and drive.”
Michelle Allard, vice president of Marketing and Communications for Day & Ross, commented that “Day & Ross is proud to be partnering with Truckers Against Trafficking to harness the power of our great driving team to spread awareness and help prevent human trafficking. As a Freedom Driver sponsor, this partnership is a true reflection of our values, and we’re committed to educating and equipping our drivers to make a difference.”
Day & Ross is also a member of TAT’s Canada Committee (TCC), a volunteer membership committee seeking to be a growth accelerator in expanding TAT’s anti-trafficking training among the trucking, bus and energy industries in Canada.
TAT Systems Administrator Susan Dold will present at a virtual Schneider Women’s Network event for Schneider National, Inc., May 11. Participants will also be able to tour the Freedom Drivers Project virtually. Since initiating TAT training in 2014, Schneider has trained 54,343 of their employees. A Platinum level sponsor, they co-sponsored a community education night at a local community college/CDL program that featured TAT, a local sheriff’s deputy and themselves presenting on human trafficking. The following year, they brought the FDP to five of their terminals, and have committed to three years of hauls for the mobile museum. This is the second time TAT has presented at Schneider’s Women’s Network event.
“The Schneider Women’s Network is women who are energized by the transportation and logistics industry and want to ensure Schneider’s ongoing success,” explained Tammy Grunert, Associate Relations director at Schneider. “As the eyes and ears of the nation’s highways, truck drivers are in an excellent position to assist law enforcement in recovering victims of human trafficking and having traffickers arrested. By calling in tips that are turned over to law enforcement, truckers are helping close loopholes traffickers use, which leads to lives being saved. That’s precisely why Schneider has been providing TAT training to driver associates since 2016, and why the Schneider Foundation has become a Platinum level sponsor of the organization.”
TAT would cease to exist without the support of its partners. PrePass Safety Alliance, a nonprofit, public-private partnership of state agencies and trucking industry leaders devoted to safe, secure and efficient use of North America’s highway system, is one such partner.
“For many years, the folks at PrePass have marshaled their resources in support of TAT’s work to combat human trafficking,” stated Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “From allowing us access to train their members, to activating their social media and other communication channels to raise awareness about the crime of human trafficking, to encouraging members to bid on (and purchase) the Everyday Heroes Truck in 2019, to their fantastic financial support … TAT is in their debt. I was also blown away by the decision last year of Mark Doughty, their president and CEO, to not only maintain their Platinum level sponsorship of TAT in the heart of COVID, but to donate an additional $5,000, as they knew we’d be hard hit as a non-profit seeking to fundraise in such times. These are the types of partners that inspire and encourage us.”
As a TAT partner since 2014, PrePass:
Doughty emphasized, “The tragedy that is human trafficking often plays out on or near our nation’s highways. That makes the work of Truckers Against Trafficking so vital as it educates, organizes and trains the trucking industry and agencies responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement alike on how to detect and disrupt human trafficking. PrePass Safety Alliance is proud to support TAT, as our missions align to improve safety on our nation’s highways.”
“It’s imperative our supporters understand how their generosity generates results,” commented Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “Vantage Point is a fantastic new resource for TAT to communicate its impact and celebrate the crucial role our partners play in making those achievements possible.”
Rather than simply a compendium of everything accomplished in a quarter by TAT staff and programs, each issue of Vantage Point will strive to be more visual in nature and highlight a few of the quarter’s accomplishments. The first issue provides information on two events: TAT’s first Anti-Trafficking Trailblazers event and a TAT/BOTL (Busing on the Lookout) Virtual Bus and Casino Coalition Build in Nevada and spotlights two people who contributed to the success of those events. The rest of the issue provides a recap of some of the tips received from truckers at the National Human Trafficking Hotline and details a few additional quarterly results, including a graphic portraying TAT involvement in events from National Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January.
In Canada, numerous studies and research projects have shown that, both currently and historically, Indigenous women and girls compose a significant percentage of trafficking targets. To raise awareness of this complex issue in an effective and comprehensive manner, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is working on a fully funded project to create three training modules for community members, the transportation industry and the hospitality industry. They approached TAT to partner with them on the transportation portion.
NWAC is an aggregate of 13 Native women’s organizations from across Canada, founded to enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Indigenous women within their respective communities and Canada societies. Its violence prevention arm is MMIWG, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which is committed to developing concrete actions to end the cycle of violence that affects Indigenous communities.
Candice Shaw, director of Violence Prevention and MMIWG, NWAC, said, “Having only just established in as a distinct policy unit October 2020, NWAC’s Violence Prevention and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (VP-MMIWG) was given an opportunity to develop partnerships with key organizations through a funded project seeking to address the impacts of human trafficking and sexual exploitation on Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. Through conversations with NWAC colleagues, TAT’s name was raised as a well-known and respected organization committed to providing educating and awareness to those who work in the transportation industry to recognize and report instances of human trafficking.”
She continued, “After meeting with Kendis, Kylla, and Liz, the VP-MMIWG team knew that their knowledge and experience would be a huge asset to the team’s current and ongoing scope of work. It was also readily apparent that the TAT team were deeply invested in hearing more about the specifics of the Canadian transportation context and its impact on historically marginalized populations like Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. This relationship quickly formed into a partnership in the truest sense. We are incredibly grateful for the time and energy that TAT has invested to help us co-inform training materials directed at the Canadian transportation sector, informed by Indigenous experiences and perspectives. TAT has shown us that passion, knowledge-area expertise, and dogged determination can achieve real and positive social change. We are humbled by this partnership experience, and we hope that this project has provided the first step in a long-lasting partnership journey between NWAC and TAT.”
Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, described the new relationship by saying, “When it comes to understanding the links between human trafficking and Indigenous populations, our partnership with NWAC is proving to be invaluable. Not only will it strengthen and enhance our Canada-specific training resources, but this partnership is opening up clear communication lines between TAT and the local groups on the frontlines of the issue. Ideally, this collaboration will foster the targeted systems change necessary to combating sexual exploitation throughout Canada.”
“TAT’s incredible work and amazing success in helping everyday heroes make real change in their world is truly unique,” explained Shelagh Roxburgh, senior policy advisor for VP-MMIWG, NWAC. “Kendis, Kylla, Liz and the whole team are so open, passionate and grounded, and their ability to make complex issues part of day-to-day practice makes them an exceptional organization. Having the opportunity to work with TAT through a true partnership allowed us to learn how they have developed a practice that helps anyone, from any walk of life, find their place in the fight against trafficking. All organizations begin with the dream of making change, but some can get weighed down by the challenges they face or the complexity of their environment. TAT is a true change maker and will continue to be, because every team member works tirelessly with integrity, honesty, and humility. It has been an incredible journey walking with them these past few months.”
Among the findings of various studies, which can be found on TAT’s website:
Emily Hanlon, senior policy advisor for VP-MMIWG, NWAC, commented, “Working with Truckers Against Trafficking has been both instructive and an absolute pleasure. Their approach changes hearts and minds and leads to action, and these are the kinds of people we want to work with! Their practical approach meant that our work together has been productive in so many ways. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to work with TAT, and we look forward to working with them in whatever ways we can!”
As a result of this partnership, NWAC has also introduced TAT to the following Canadian organizations who will help to inform TAT’s counter-trafficking efforts in Canada: Ma Mawi, the British Columbia Society of Transition Homes, Robson Valley Community Services and the Commercial Vehicle Security Enforcement.
More than 60 people tuned into Facebook on March 18 for TAT’s first Addressing Demand Watch Party. The event included viewing TAT’s informative video addressing the demand for commercial sex and how it relates to human trafficking, followed by an open discussion moderated by Louie Greek, TAT training specialist, and Alan Smyth, executive director of Saving Innocence.
“I believe the event was successful in encouraging men to combat human trafficking by having the conversation to address the demand for commercial sex. Following the video, viewers dove deeply into the issue of what drives modern-day slavery, and then we discussed the steps guys can take, both personally and within their communities, to protect the most vulnerable,” Greek shared. “I have received emails from human trafficking task forces and community organizations interested in starting an ‘addressing demand’ campaign in their local communities.”
Smyth added, “If we can admit that men are the problem in the demand for commercial sex, then we are halfway there. Now we can be a part of the solution.”
One viewer commented, “I was brought up with the Neanderthal mentality. In my dating years it carried over. It wasn’t until years later, when I got involved in law enforcement, that I saw how misconstrued my younger years had been.”
Another viewer said, “Thank you, guys!! You give me hope for a brighter future!”
Greek and Smyth shared a number of resources for people wanting to educate others as well as dive deeper themselves:
Greek concluded, “If we want to protect our daughters, we need to have conversations with our sons.”
TAT concluded its popular Justice Seekers series in mid-March, with the final session focused on buyer characteristics and behavior. The series, featuring expert panelists, was designed to deepen the understanding about victims of human trafficking. It also provided prosecutors and members of law enforcement practical steps on engaging with victims, best practices for undercover operations and case studies of human trafficking investigations.
In total, Justice Seekers conducted 10 events, with 1453 people either attending the sessions or receiving training through the recordings. Topics ranged from undercover human trafficking ops, human trafficking investigations, employing a victim-centered approach and bridging the gap with victims to rules of the game, the dos and don’ts of working with victims, types of traffickers and sex trafficking, buyers as discussed by a survivor leaders panel, demand-reduction operations as discussed by a law enforcement panel and types of buyers and their social impact.
Feedback from attendees was positive throughout the series, with comments like:
“We are thrilled to know that the recordings of our sessions are being passed along to other law enforcement officers and law enforcement academies throughout the nation,” TAT Deputy Director Kylla Leeburg said. “We’ve been told that several of them have been added into law enforcement academy curriculum as well as used as ongoing training for transportation enforcement professionals. We know that with more and deeper information on different aspects of human trafficking, law enforcement officers will be able to identify victims and perpetrators more readily, and people can be recovered out of this life.”
Open to a select group of key stakeholders, including representatives from Attorney Generals’ offices, state police, law enforcement leaders and representatives from state human trafficking task forces, TAT’s virtual Trailblazers event drew an audience of 116 interested in learning about innovative approaches to combating human trafficking statewide.
All three programs are highly replicable and have yielded concrete results in successfully fighting human trafficking in their state. During the one-hour session, panelists discussed implementation methods, key partner involvement and successful outcomes. They also provided a one-page paper with details and steps for replication.
Survey results following the event revealed:
Representative comments from participants included this remark from Christina Bain, director of the Initiative on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery at Babson College: “Thank you so much for this dynamic session and for your incredible efforts!”
“We were really pleased to see such a high turnout for this event” Esther Goetsch, TAT Coalition Build director and one of the event’s organizers, said. “It really underscores the importance of collaboration across the public and private sectors and the interest states have in developing successful statewide strategies to battle human trafficking.”
As a company, ASAP Express & Logistics made a commitment to fight human trafficking, and they decided to lead by example. In January, National Human Trafficking Awareness Month (NHTAM), ASAP pursued their commitment by fundraising for Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) and a Michigan-based charity called Hope Against Trafficking. Throughout the month, for every shipment sent by ASAP customers, ASAP made a $5 donation to Truckers Against Trafficking, Shipments from the top customer were matched to Hope Against Trafficking. By month’s end, customer shipments resulted in a $5,155 donation to TAT and over $1800 for Hope.
ASAP began their campaign last November by having their sales team mention the upcoming fundraiser to customers and advertising it through their digital channels. They also bought ad time on local radio stations in the Detroit area to bring awareness to human trafficking and the fundraiser. Throughout the campaign, they received positive reactions from their sales executives in the field, including other business leaders that they interacted with throughout the campaign. XPO, ASAP’s top customer, even featured the campaign on their site.
Joshua Eakle, ASAP Marketing and Business Development manager, said that “even during an international pandemic, law enforcement sources estimate there were at least 22,000 attempts to purchase women in Michigan in 2020. Not even a potentially life-threatening virus could prevent some men from exploiting women.” The team at ASAP believes that is unacceptable. John Cummings, ASAP CEO, always looking for new ways to support organizations fighting the scourge of trafficking, thought a fundraising campaign during NHTAM was a small way the company could help out.
“When I first heard about the tragedy that is human trafficking and the stories about little girls being tortured and raped, I was compelled to get involved to make a difference wherever I could. Owning a transportation company, Teaming up with Truckers Against Trafficking, allowed me as the owner of a transportation company to get involved nationally,” Cummings said. “Hope Against Trafficking allowed me to get involved locally and in a more personal way. On behalf of myself and the ASAP Team, we are and will remain committed to fighting and preventing this horrific crime wherever and however we can.”
“We are thrilled with this innovative and simple way ASAP created to fundraise for TAT,” said Laura Cyrus, TAT Corporate Engagement director. “We really hope it will inspire other companies to look at their own structure and processes and create some similar events. We’ve also got ideas for employee fundraisers on our website and invite companies to take a look.”
People often wonder why there’s so much sex trafficking, so many victims. It’s a simple case of supply and demand. Demand creates the need for victims. But do you know what factors feed demand and how they can be controlled? Join TAT’s initial Facebook Watch Party on Addressing Demand March 18, from 4-5 p.m. (PT), to watch TAT’s informative video addressing the demand for commercial sex and how it relates to human trafficking. The video will be followed by an open discussion, moderated by Louie Greek, TAT training specialist, and Alan Smyth, executive director of Saving Innocence. To view a trailer of the video and fill out a registration form, click here. “Men don’t always realize how their actions and behaviors can fuel the demand for commercial sex,” Greek explained. “If you want to stand up against human trafficking, and if you want to protect our daughters, sisters, and mothers, then join other men on March 18, as we have a conversation to address this issue.”
“As our heroes are out on the road, we’re creating not only more tools for personal education but great tools for them to share with their company, friends and family, so we can exponentially grow those equipped to stop trafficking,” commented Hofer. “These resources will continue to benefit those hauling on our roadways for years to come. Both our Driving Freedom podcast and the virtual FDP tour bring our audience in contact with the real stories of human trafficking, so they know exactly what to look for and how to respond. When you get to hear directly from the experts and those who have experienced this reality, you gain a deeper level of understanding and urgency, knowing the actions you take could drastically change the lives of others.”
Around the country, TAT works to activate law enforcement at every level to move states forward in the implementation of the components of the Iowa MVE (Motor Vehicle Enforcement) Model to increase awareness and combat human trafficking nationwide through the commercial trucking industry.
To date, 48 states ((31 fully and 17 partially) have adopted that model. The actions each state has taken so far can be viewed on this interactive map. In addition to the critical anti-trafficking elements adopted, implementation of the Iowa MVE Model has led to increased partnership opportunities for TAT, including Coalition Build (CB) and panel participation, undercover investigations, in-depth law enforcement training and increased introductions to other agencies.
Bi-annually, TAT sends out MVE state progress reports and asks contacts two questions: Is everything correct on the state report and do they need more materials.
“This month, we had a very eager response from several states who wanted to highlight all the extra ways they are raising awareness with TAT materials, the presentations they are giving, the outreach, the new Coalition Builds they’re in process of planning … some of them are lobbying hard to get more elements of the model coded in on the map,” said Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director. “These states, in particular, have already fully adopted the six core elements of the model; now they’re wanting all the extras they do to be noted. We ended up making changes to several state reports.”
She continued, “I think what we can glean from this is that law enforcement is ‘all in’ with their dedication, and they are seeking additional ways and getting very creative in making inroads to other entities with our materials. They aren’t satisfied with just stopping with our asks … they are going above and beyond. Well done!”
In the 2020 TAT annual report, TAT Executive Director Kendis Paris sets the tone for the report by recognizing and applauding the essential nature of TAT’s partners in her letter. She writes:
Like everyone else on the planet, I am happy to put 2020 in the rearview. However, despite the extraordinary challenges it presented, including increased vulnerabilities for victims of human trafficking and those most susceptible to exploitation, the United States trucking industry must be lauded for their undeniable efforts to keep our country running.
Many Americans, some for the first time, quietly (or overtly) thanked a professional driver when they walked into their local grocery store and found re-stocked shelves or their hospitals and urgent cares equipped with the necessary resources for their treatment. Professional drivers were on the front lines hauling hand sanitizer, masks and PPE to millions all across the nation, and now they are faithfully ensuring the vaccine is getting where it needs to go.
In addition, truck stops remained open and worked to ensure that professional drivers had a safe place to park, refuel and be fed. Bus drivers faced health risks, and yet continued to go to work, ensuring that those who also had to work outside the home or get to school were transported safely. The energy industry, despite enormous challenges, fueled our nation … making certain that truck and bus drivers were able to fulfill their logistical missions.
In the midst of it all, this large, mobile army continued to make calls on behalf of those who needed it most. As you will read in the pages of this report, members of the truck, bus and energy industries were essential in combating human trafficking in 2020, alongside government officials, and, for that, we owe them a debt of gratitude.
Recently, I spoke with Jeff Davis, an Armed Forces veteran and a Delta Auto Transport driver with 22 years of experience out on the roads. This past August, Jeff made a call on behalf of a 16-year-old girl being sold for sex. It was 3:30 a.m. when she knocked on his door, and Jeff told me what roused him from bed was remembering the mother featured in our TAT training video and how she wept recounting how a call from a driver had helped bring her daughter back home. Jeff, who proceeded to get up, get dressed and leave his tractor to go find the girl, not only called the hotline on the girl’s behalf, but also local law enforcement, telling me, “That girl’s life is far more important than me getting a few hours of sleep.”
To Jeff Davis and all the truckers against trafficking out there on the roads … thank you for your service, thank you for your leadership and thank you for being our everyday heroes.
A newly formed and operating TAT Canada Committee (TCC) will work to expand TAT Canada’s reach and implementation by activating the networks, resources and expertise of its volunteer members. Committee members, including Kriska and UPS Canada, come from both public and private entities, including industry leaders, top carriers, major government transportation entities and crucial anti-trafficking voices in Canada, as TAT has found these partnerships integral to success.
TCC membership goals include a commitment to training and implementing additional TAT Canada action steps company-wide; identifying and working to obtain speaking opportunities at conferences and events for TAT Canada; and conducting direct outreach to each committee member’s sphere of influence, encouraging partnership with TAT Canada. TAT Canada will also work to see the Canadian Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Model (Canadian CVE) adopted by provinces and law enforcement to utilize entry points into the trucking and bus industries to spread the TAT anti-trafficking message. The Canadian CVE duplicates the Iowa MVE model TAT has successfully used in the United States.
The committee chair and co-chair are Heather Mewhinney and Caroline Blais, both from Kriska Transportation Group. For Kriska, Mewhinney is head of human resources, while Blais is recruiting manager.
TAT has been working to build relationships in Canada since 2019. It held a Coalition Build in Toronto that year, has benefitted from its American contacts, such as UPS, Pilot and Bridgestone, making introductions to their Canadian affiliates, has conducted its own research on Canadian trucking and law enforcement and has worked closely with the leadership of the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO) to raise awareness of human trafficking by introducing and promoting education to all students who enroll in a commercial truck driving course, and with the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC), who promoted TAT Canada to their membership. These efforts have resulted in trucking companies showing interest in providing TAT training and certification to all their employees. Fifteen companies, so far, have TAT Trained their drivers, with an additional two dozen more poised to implement training in 2021.
Some “everyday hero” deserves to be named this year’s winner of the TAT Harriet Tubman Award presented by Protective Insurance, complete with a $2500 check and a gala weekend at the Indy500. Is it someone in your company? Is it you? Is it someone you’ve heard about? Visit TAT’s Harriet Tubman Award page for specifics on the nomination process.
As Busing on the Lookout (BOTL), TAT’s bus industry training and outreach program, kicks off its fourth year, the program’s reach and impact continue to grow. To date, BOTL has registered over 120,000 members of the bus industry as BOTL Trained and continues expanding its industry partnerships at all levels.
BOTL Program Specialist Lexi Higgins is overseeing the launch of a new BOTL training video specifically designed for school bus drivers. The video addresses the role these drivers play in the lives of the children they transport daily and features testimony from TAT Training Specialist and Survivor Leader Liz Williamson, who talks about the years she spent as a child victim of sex trafficking while attending school and riding the school bus daily.
As part of the launch of this new resource, BOTL hosted a national virtual training for pupil transportation, with more than 135 pupil transportation leaders from 29 states registered. Danny Papa, educator and president of the New Jersey Coalition of Human Trafficking, presented alongside Williamson and Higgins.
“As an educator who has worked for the last 10 years empowering young people to be the voice of change on this issue, it’s an honor to speak with members of school transportation,” Papa said. “Human trafficking can affect anyone, but everyone plays a role in preventing trafficking of all forms. Students could be sitting on your buses longer than they are sitting in the average classroom. That just shows how unique your role is in a school community and in the lives of students.”
To access BOTL’s new school bus driver-focused training video, visit https://truckersagainsttrafficking.org/school-transportation/. Contact Lexi Higgins, BOTL program specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In commemoration of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, BOTL hosted or co-hosted four national virtual trainings targeting transit agencies, casinos, motorcoach operators, and pupil transportation providers. In total, these events reached over 500 industry leaders from across the nation.
BOTL also partnered with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in January to host a national webinar on transit’s role in combating human trafficking. Over 260 transit leaders registered for this event to hear testimonials from survivor-leaders, an overview of the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority’s human trafficking initiative and updates from the Federal Transit Administration on its Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative. Following the session, Polly Hanson, APTA’s Senior Director for Security, Risk and Emergency Management, complimented all presenters and organizers, saying, “Words cannot express how powerful this session was. Your thoughtfulness and efforts working to create awareness, provide training and tips will be remembered and will have lasting impact on all of the webinar attendees.”
As part of its initiative to close loopholes to traffickers at the intersection between buses and casinos, BOTL is partnering with the American Gaming Association to host a webinar for their casino property members in February and worked with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, the Nevada Resort Association and the Nevada Trucking Association to host a virtual briefing on how buses, transit and casinos can work with law enforcement to help end human trafficking in Nevada. Over 160 industry, state agency and law enforcement representatives from Nevada signed up for the briefing to learn about efforts underway in their state and how they can access BOTL’s training resources for buses and casinos.
For regular updates on BOTL activities and progress, follow @BusingOTL on Facebook and Instagram.
January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month (NHTAM), and this year, TAT staff will either participate in or support various activities to educate and raise awareness at associations, businesses and organizations, many of which are TAT partners. They will also use Facebook Live interviews to celebrate past winners of the Harriet Tubman Award for their actions which have saved lives and/or prevented human trafficking from taking place.
NHTAM is a specific time set aside by presidential proclamation for everyone to educate themselves about human trafficking and how to spot the signs of trafficking. It’s also a time to spread that education to workplaces, churches, schools, government leaders and elsewhere.
The American Trucking Associations will host TAT at driver and management-focused webinars, as well as at one directed to the moving industry. The American Public Transportation Association, the Alabama Trucking Association, Phillips 66, Great West Casualty Company, Junior League, Infinity and others have invited TAT staff to make presentations this month to spotlight the crime of human trafficking and the steps individuals and industries can take to fight it.
Uber renewed their Silver Level TAT sponsorship this year and on Jan. 11 will be sending an email to their US Freight drivers about NHTAM and encouraging them to TAT Train. On Feb. 22, they’ll send a similar email to Uber Freight Canada drivers in honor of Canadian National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Every year, during NHTAM, law enforcement in four Midwestern states make a special education and awareness push with trucking and travel plazas, which they call the Quad State Initiative. This year, in addition to that activity, the Illinois State Police, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Indiana State Police and Michigan Police will join a number of other TAT law enforcement partners in January to fulfill or surpass one or more of “four TAT asks”:
These other partners include the Wyoming Highway Patrol, Minnesota State Police, Louisiana State Police, Colorado State Patrol, Kentucky State Police, North Dakota Highway Patrol, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Vermont DMV, New Jersey State Police, Wisconsin State Police, Public Service Commission of West Virginia, South Carolina Dept of Public Safety, Pennsylvania State Police and Michigan State Police.
“With the heightened awareness January provides around the issue of human trafficking, TAT maximizes its private and public partnerships by working together to reach even more individuals with counter-trafficking initiatives,” stated Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “Whether we’re offering additional training opportunities, seeing anti-trafficking-in-persons policies adopted, welcoming new partners to the fold, or supplying the materials for our state agency partners to systematically distribute them to our key market sectors, we want to take full advantage of the additional opportunities National Human Trafficking Awareness Month creates.”
Like many non-profit organizations, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) has a tight budget, used in the majority for the services it provides to advance its mission. Legal services are expensive, so when a law firm provides them pro bono, such as Dentons, it enables organizations like TAT to grow and flourish with the security of knowing its actions and communications are on firm legal footing.
With more people in more locations than any other firm in the world, Dentons is able to assist the communities it serves in pro bono matters, often providing in excess of 100,000 hours annually. TrustLaw, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global pro bono legal program, named Dentons the “2019 International Law Firm of the Year.” They were selected for the award in recognition of the breadth of their pro bono service to individuals in need, nonprofits, NGOs and social enterprises.
“TAT is a wonderful client to work with,” Gale Monahan, a partner at Dentons, remarked. “The organization is doing great things in our communities and improving the lives of so many people. I have really enjoyed getting to know the TAT team over the years, and I have learned a lot about human trafficking issues in the United States — something I admittedly had never thought much about before I was introduced to TAT. While finding the time to do pro bono work can be challenging for attorneys, it is well worth it when you find the right client.”
Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, responded with gratitude, “Dentons’ contribution to TAT is undeniable. Whenever a legal question arises, I know Gale and his wonderful team will be there to answer it. As a non-profit, this type of pro-bono service and dedication is remarkable, as we wouldn’t be able to afford these resources on our own. It’s incredibly helpful to know a top-notch firm ‘has your back’ … we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.”
Chris Ripani, president of Bridgestone’s Commercial Truck Division, including GCR Tires and Service, has been elected to serve on the Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) Board of Directors. He has been with Bridgestone for more than 20 years, serving in progressive leadership roles, including president of GCR, president of Speedco (formerly a Bridgestone company) and various roles in strategic sales, marketing and operations across the company’s commercial businesses.
“Truckers Against Trafficking is a fantastic organization with a laser-focused mission,” Ripani explained. “I’m excited to serve on the Board, as I’ve been working around the trucking industry for over 21 years and see a tremendous opportunity for deeper connections with suppliers, fleets and service providers in transportation.”
Following a review of 2020’s accomplishments, including new partners and surpassing a million drivers registered as TAT Trained, and then participating in a strategic goal-setting exercise for the new year, TAT staff begin 2021 and activities for National Human Trafficking Awareness Month with a renewed sense of purpose and passion.
The end-of-year fundraiser provided $276,778 toward this year’s industry and law enforcement training needs in addition to costs of other TAT programs. “One of the most generous contributions toward our end-of-year fundraiser came from Prime Inc. via their $100,000 gift,” exclaimed Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “To say this gift blessed and amazed us is an understatement. In a year where funds were tight all the way around for most everyone, it is incredibly significant to have Prime leadership step up and prioritize charitable giving … we can’t thank them enough!”
In a video, Prime Inc. announced their gift to TAT, as well as gifts to other charities, using funds they generally applied to employee celebrations. The video also emphasized the fact that they’ve TAT Trained all 15,000 of their drivers, and their employees love TAT. “The events that we host are not cheap, and the savings from not being able to provide these events to our associates are significant. It only made sense to evaluate the needs of the charities that we’ve worked with throughout the years and help on the behalf of our entire company,” said Robert Low, founder and CEO of Prime Inc.
The 2020 TAT annual report will be out soon, detailing, among other things, a number of incidents where trucker calls made the difference to victims and enabled law enforcement to apprehend perpetrators.
Major Mike Krumm received the TAT Champion Award in the State Agency category on behalf of the Michigan State Police (MSP) Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division (CVED). The award was presented by TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier during the opening ceremonies of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance virtual fall conference.
In presenting the award, Lanier labeled the MSP CVED “a stellar example” of what it means to be a TAT Champion. “After hearing TAT’s executive director speak at the MVCI many years ago, Major Krumm set to work adopting all the elements of the Iowa MVE Model in the state of Michigan, becoming the second state to achieve full implementation,” she related. “Major Krumm and his officers consistently visit trucking companies and other organizations/agencies with the TAT message. In 2016, they even presented to the Office of the Michigan Secretary of State, which led that office to display TAT posters, raising further awareness about human trafficking. Most recently, Officer Nathan Daughtery has taken a strong role of furthering TAT’s message to the bus industry in Michigan with our Busing on the Lookout training materials.”
MSP CVED collect data on their interdiction and inspection stops that turn into trafficking cases, and always follow up on tips from concerned citizens and truck drivers. They have been leaders on their regional initiative to combat human trafficking by helping to create, coordinate and participate in a Quad-State detail with their colleagues from Ohio State Highway Patrol, Illinois State Police and Indiana State Police. During the month of January, National Human Trafficking Awareness Month in the United States, these four state law enforcement groups work to raise awareness about human trafficking by blanketing the commercial vehicle industries in their state with TAT materials, presentations, etc.
MSP CVED has made training their officers on human trafficking a priority, and they work to encourage other state agencies throughout the United States to work with Truckers Against Trafficking, recognizing that a coordinated and unified effort provides the best chance of crippling human traffickers’ networks.
“The Michigan State Police is excited to be recognized as a TAT Champion Award winner for the year 2020! We are grateful for the partnership we have developed with TAT over the past six years, as together we fight the horrific crime of human trafficking,” Major Krumm stated.
Each year, TAT presents the TAT Champion Awards to recognize and honor the outstanding creative, innovative, generous and dedicated efforts of specific TAT organization, association and state agency partners, whose actions have significantly furthered the work of engaging more members of the industries TAT works with, as well as the efforts of more agencies and organizations within their state and the nation in the fight to end human trafficking and recover more survivors and prosecute more perpetrators.
“When Annika and I train law enforcement officers, our hope and main goal is always to equip officers to both recognize victims of sexual exploitation and know how to engage with them in the best ways possible,” declared Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director. “We don’t always get to hear how our training plays out in the field, so hearing how Trooper Heard employed the victim-centered approach with victims after detecting that something was off and became an advocate for them — there is really nothing better. He, and other law enforcement officers who risk their lives daily to make our nation safer, inspire us in our work; and we know victims have the chance to become survivors and overcomers because of them.”
The two incidents below involve Illinois State Police (ISP) Trooper Zachary Heard. The first one occurred this year and the second one last year: On a routine traffic stop in Illinois, a 10-year-old boy was taken into protective custody and a middleaged man was arrested for sexual assault. Through personal experience and training he received through the TAT law enforcement training, ISP Trooper Zach Heard was able to legally build a case for prosecution. “TAT’s law enforcement training pulls the curtain back on a reclusive black market, with insight and details that can only be provided by survivors of the industry,” he stated.
In 2019, Trooper Heard was involved in another interdiction involving trafficking where TAT training came into play. He pulled over a pickup on a traffic violation with a male driver and a female passenger. The passenger appeared trying to make herself small, as if she were distancing herself from the truck and driver. During his conversation with the driver, Trooper Heard noticed some drug paraphernalia and proceeded to search the vehicle, where he discovered a large quantity of narcotics. He called in the narcotics detectives, who took over the arrest and the search and confiscation of the vehicle.
Trooper Heard then spoke with the adult female, who had a large tattoo in Spanish covering her forearm. While Trooper Heard spoke Spanish, he discovered the victim did not. She tried to explain away the tattoo with a convoluted explanation, which led Trooper Heard to suspect human trafficking. He continued to speak with her in a very non-judgmental way, using a victim-centered approach and offering to help her and connect her with resources. While she broke down crying a couple times, she refused services.
Trooper Heard offered her a ride somewhere. She asked to go to an ATM and then to a hotel for the night before figuring out her way home. He continued to talk with her, expressing concern and offering services. They exchanged numbers, and he told her to call if she needed anything or if she wanted to testify against the driver she’d been with.
TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier said Trooper Heard called TAT a couple days later saying he believed the woman was very close to accepting help and “wondered if we could speak with her.” Lanier asked Trooper Heard to call this young woman back and ask her if she would be willing to have her number shared with Annika Huff, TAT training specialist and survivor-advocate. “Not only did she answer the phone when Trooper Heard called, revealing that he’d established rapport and trust,” related Lanier, “but she agreed to speak with Annika once he explained who she was. Annika and the young woman talked, and, at the conclusion of the call, she asked Annika to find out resource providers in her home state. Annika was able to do that, and they had another conversation when she passed on the service providers in that area.”
Liz Williamson, a survivor of human trafficking who works as a survivor-advocate based in Northern California, is the newest member of the TAT team. As a TAT training specialist, she will make presentations to a variety of audiences, engage with the trucking industry in Canada and handle some administrative duties.
Williamson has done direct service work with survivors at the local, regional and national level. For the past decade, she has trained and spoken nationally to audiences regarding her survival of familial trafficking to help dispel the myths surrounding this topic and to empower individuals to help make a difference. She has also trained medical professionals with Dignity Health to identify victims seeking to receive medical services, with special attention given to what the medical community missed or was unable to assist her with during her trafficking experience. Williamson is a member of the Survivor Leadership Institute through GEMS. With a bachelor’s in English Literature and a flair for all things creative, she enjoys communicating and creating. Williamson passionately believes that survivors deserve the opportunity to use their experiences to rewrite their stories and their futures. “I’m glad to be working for TAT, because of the ability to train and educate so many. Somewhere there is a victim waiting to be seen, and those drivers will be prepared,” she said.
Editorial note from the TAT staff: No one argues that 2020 has been a year without equal – one for the books, as they say – and not one anyone cares to repeat. But it’s also been a year where people have shown remarkable heroism, unselfish commitment at personal risk to support others and the grit to endure much hardship, loss and grief, while continuing to work steadily to provide life-saving care, resources and supplies to needy, hurting people.
“Despite the hardships this year has brought, so many of our industry partners have been serving on the frontlines, while continuing to make calls on behalf of the exploited,” shared Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “To all of the truckers against trafficking out there … thank you for what you do!”
TAT has recently received a $100,000 matching grant gift from Berger North, and we would love your contribution toward this matching grant to close out this year with a bang and begin 2021 on a clear note of optimism. Use your donation toward this matching grant to say thank you to:
TAT’s 2020 annual report, due for release in the first quarter of 2021, will not only give a detailed impact report of the year but also recognize the essential contribution of our transportation and energy partners.
Word of mouth may seem casual, but it often produces major impact. Toyota Motor North America recently became a TAT shipping partner, having first heard of TAT last year from Accelerated Logistics Auto Transport and Moore Transport, TAT supporters and Toyota carrier partners. As a result, Toyota has already:
Through Toyota’s discussions with their carrier partners, a top 100 company has already called TAT and is committing to train their private fleet immediately.
“Toyota’s two pillars are Respect for People and Continuous Improvement, and we’re committed to actively engaging in our communities to improve lives for all. So, partnering with Truckers Against Trafficking to work toward eliminating human trafficking felt like a natural fit,” explained Missy Pearlman, group manager, TLS Vehicle Transportation Operations.
Looking for an easy way to keep the issue of human trafficking in front of employees and/or association or organization members?
TAT’s new Driving Freedom podcast is a helpful training tool to maximize learning-on-the-go for the busy members of the trucking, bus and energy industries. Each short episode, most between 15-20 minutes in length, is designed to refresh critical issues learned to keep this life-saving information top of mind.
Current podcast episodes include the Victim-Centered Approach with Annika Huff, Addressing Demand with Alan Smyth, The “Life”, Vulnerabilities and a Better Way Out with Christine Mcdonald, How TAT Got Started and Conspiracy Theories.
“We recognize that this mobile army of eyes and ears is constantly on the go,” stated Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “Our new podcast is the perfect training tool to listen to about 30 minutes before you make your next stop. From survivors of sex trafficking describing what life for them was really like to addressing how the issue of demand fuels the sex trade, this podcast provides a content-rich, mini-refresher course on the realities of human trafficking and how to effectively combat it in the course of your everyday job.”
To become a distribution point of these podcasts for your company employees or your association or organization members, contact Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, here to discuss options. Methods currently being used by companies to distribute include linking TAT’s podcast to theirs, promoting it via an email blast to all drivers, putting it in their newsletter, sharing it via screens in terminals and introducing it during sales calls. Share these podcasts within your sphere of influence as well, so people continue to grow in their understanding of this crime and what they can do to combat it.
Been waiting for the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) to arrive in your neighborhood or workplace to experience its incredible imagery and the powerful truth it conveys about human trafficking? Wait no longer! You and your employees can take a free virtual tour via your tablet or computer.
Recently, through the generosity of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), and, in particular, Elisabeth Barna, ATA COO and TAT board member, leaders at the ATA Management Conference and Exhibition, held in October, had the opportunity to take the FDP virtual tour, available through a virtual booth. TAT staff members have attended the conference in the past.
The FDP virtual tour was also available at the Birmingham, Alabama and New Mexico Coalition Builds in October, and will be part of the North American Transportation Services Association conference early this month.
Featuring comprehensive exhibits, the FDP is a dynamic, visual tool demonstrating both the reality and devastation of trafficking through facts and survivor artifacts, as well as the critical role transportation and energy members are playing in combating this crime. It lends itself well to a virtual tour during these times.
View and share the condensed tour and/or email Helen Hofer here to design an event specific to your team. To further enhance the experience, schedule an in-depth anti-trafficking training webinar led by a TAT staff for your virtual event.
Featuring updated training modules, a virtual Coalition Build (CB) held on Oct. 28 drew 70 people from more than 28 entities from the energy industry, including operators, service companies and organizations from New Mexico, Texas and Colorado. The event was sponsored by Marathon Oil and co-hosted by Marathon and Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), with the intent of engaging the energy companies working on the New Mexico side of the Permian Basin.
On a follow-up survey, one of the participants wrote, “We often don’t think about everything and everyone that comes with trafficking. This was such an eye-opener to understanding what needs to be thought through and how we can make an effective impact in all areas.”
A TAT partner, Marathon Oil joined the Oil and Gas Trafficking Awareness Group (OGTAG) in 2018 and began implementing their antitrafficking initiative internally in January 2020. That month, they also led the members of OGTAG in Marathon’s first signature event, Energy Empowers Freedom Week, in which TAT participated with presentations and Freedom Drivers Project tours. This event resulted in more than 1,000 energy employees across Houston receiving awareness training about human trafficking.
Mary Ellen Weyland, community engagement lead for Marathon Oil, told CB participants that “no industry is immune to trafficking, and this is not an energy-specific issue. But we wanted to use the reach and scale of our companies to bring awareness to an issue that has unfortunately experienced a surge around the country. We hope you now have a better understanding of the issue and what you can do to help keep our community safe. Just like we did with safety, and like we’re doing with environmental performance, we know that when we come together as an industry, we can create real, positive change.”
“This Coalition Build serves as an excellent opportunity to work with TAT’s longtime and new partners to expand the fight against human trafficking,” said Ashley Smith, TAT director of Energy Operations. “With a recently updated Empower Freedom training DVD and an easy-touse toolkit – both available on the TAT website, our attendees have the resources they need to engage their employees in this important work.”
Every September, the trucking industry celebrates National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. This year, with the intensified role truckers have played throughout the Covid-19 pandemic keeping grocery store shelves stocked, getting PPE supplies to needy healthcare workers and police and fire departments around the country and bringing goods of all kinds to homebound people ordering online, the gratitude for their work is even greater than normal.
TAT provided a week of donated giveaways to truckers on its Facebook page, with prizes including Camo Elite and Pro Combat Blue Tiger headsets, Tony Justice CDs, Motel 6 vouchers, TAT t-shirts and beanies and $25 gift cards for Subway and Visa.
In addition to their work keeping America moving, truckers have also been vigilant keeping an eye out for any human trafficking taking place, as can be seen in this story which occurred in the second quarter of 2020:
A truck driver contacted the hotline after being approached by a minor potential victim to engage in commercial sex. The driver gave the minor food and some money, asking if she needed help. She indicated she did not. The driver then observed the minor approach the potential trafficker, who pointed the girl in the direction of other trucks parked in the lot. The truck driver noted that the minor appeared to be afraid of the potential trafficker. The truck driver was still at the location; the hotline asked the driver to call 911 to see if they could send an officer to the location while the minor was still there. The driver confirmed with the hotline that law enforcement was going to send an officer. The hotline then followed up with reports to law enforcement contacts and CPS.
“This case illustrates the care and compassion drivers have for victims of human trafficking,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “This driver did everything possible to help this child. Sometimes it’s going to work out well and a recovery will occur, and sometimes the fear of the trafficker and the coercive methods used prove too great. However, I imagine this victim will remember the humanity and kindness she was shown by this driver, and who knows how it may help lead to her recovery later on down the line. This story is such a testament to all the amazing truckers against trafficking out there … keeping America moving and doing their part to help end the heinous crime of human trafficking. Thank you.”
Due to the importance of truck stop and travel plaza owners, managers and employees in the fight against human trafficking, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is offering a free, one-hour, live online training designed especially for them on Oct. 8, from 11 a.m.-noon (CST). This virtual training includes:
“TAT has been working with the truck stop and travel plaza industry for many years, seeking to engage management through training opportunities at the Coalition Builds (CB) and by encouraging them to use TAT training for all employees,” said Esther Goetsch, CB director. “We have built some strong partnerships in this industry over the years but have always struggled to reach the thousands of independently owned or regionally owned and operated locations. People in this industry work long, hard hours and have difficulty getting away from their stores to attend an in-person training. We believe this training will fill that gap, and you can register for it here.”
This month, the CB team has scheduled five events:
Oct. 1 — Louie Greek presents to the Central Missouri Human Trafficking Task Force
Oct. 8 — Louie Greek and Annika Huff, TAT training specialists, present at the TAT virtual truck stop and travel plaza training event
Oct. 20 — Esther Goetsch, CB director, presents at Infinity, the League to Aid Abused Children and Adults
Oct. 22 — TAT team presents at the Alabama virtual Coalition Build
Oct. 28 — Ashley Smith, TAT director of Energy Operations, presents at the New Mexico virtual Coalition Build
A group of UPS drivers are going the extra mile to encourage their coworkers to learn more about human trafficking and TAT. And it’s working! In three weeks’ time, their video has been viewed by almost 400 people.
Spearheaded by Paul Barnes of UPS CACH and Wayne Ponschke, UPS Southern California District, the group, composed additionally of Jim Alvarez of UPS CACH, Titus Wamai of UPS Wisconsin, Ryan Ybarra of UPS Ontario and Marcy Drake of UPS CACH Arizona, created a video, among other measures, to bring greater “awareness of a global issue not typically seen by everyday drivers,” Ponschke explained. “The more people we can get to recognize the signs of human/sex trafficking, the more lives we can save.”
Additionally, the drivers brainstormed and worked together to:
These measures are up and running at UPS Southern California District, but other locations are following suit.
“It’s an issue happening right in front of us, and we all need to be able to recognize the signs of this worldwide atrocity,” said Barnes.
“When drivers become personally invested in this battle, we find their energy is contagious. We love the ways in which UPS drivers are raising awareness among their coworkers and circles of influence,” said Helen Hofer, Freedom Drivers Project director.
Quality Distribution, Inc. (QDI) and its wholly owned subsidiaries, Quality Carriers (QC) and Boasso Global, are long-time partners of Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), through corporate sponsorships and donating hauls to the Freedom Drivers Project. In 2020, QDI took its partnership to the next level by providing employees with an opportunity to contribute directly to TAT via payroll deductions.
“We give to several charities throughout the year, but we wanted to find a charity that aligned with our industry to unite behind as a company,” explained Melissa Ernst, senior vice president of Human Resources and Driver Services for QDI. “In 2019, we invited TAT to speak at our locations with the largest number of employees on-site. We were deeply affected by TAT’s presentation and the stories we heard and wanted to do more to help. In our annual benefits open enrollment process for 2020, we included a voluntary election, allowing employees to contribute to TAT through payroll deductions. Employees have the opportunity to change or stop their election at any time. We also provide this opportunity to contribute to every new employee who joins our organization.
“After TAT spoke in 2019,” Ernst continued, “many of our employees commented that they were pleased the company is involved with an organization like TAT. From time to time, TAT will ask for QDI employee volunteers to help staff different events, and we always see a number of our employees eager to participate. That’s the power of TAT’s mission and story. It’s impactful on employees, and they deeply appreciate the opportunity to be involved and make a difference.”
QDI looks forward to continuing its partnership with TAT.
With Covid-19 restrictions still in place, TAT’s Coalition Build (CB) program has pivoted to virtual bridge events, with the first two held in August. Hosted by partners in the Washington, DC area and the other by partners in Pennsylvania, each CB attracted more than 100 participants. These 90-minute online events feature a Human Trafficking 101 session, led by the Attorney General’s office, a survivor perspective by a TAT field trainer, an expert law enforcement panel and breakout sessions for each industry sector to discuss training options and strategies for working together locally.
Many of the outcomes of these events include future virtual speaking opportunities for TAT at industry events, conferences, and human trafficking task force meetings, such as:
“Even though the original in-person coalition was canceled, thank you for not canceling the conference all together,” commented Corporal Zena Black from the Pennsylvania State Police. “This was a great opportunity to learn from other resources, even a resource in my own department I was completely unaware of!”
“We need more innovative approaches like TAT to identify and respond to human trafficking, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault. Finding new ways to partner with stakeholders who might come in contact with the victims of these crimes would help prevent continued abuse,” opined K. Tony Korol-Evans, Ph.D., a statewide trainer for the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence.
One hundred percent of participants that filled out the survey following the meeting said they plan to share the information they learned with their company/agency/organization and will strive to take a victim-centered approach with any potential victims they encounter.
Until in-person events can resume, TAT’s CB program will continue to hold virtual bridge events that convene stakeholders across the country in an attempt to close loopholes to traffickers.
TAT’s latest training item, a new toolkit for state agencies, guides them on the steps they can take to equip their employees to combat human trafficking when it does arrive at their location, including how they can partner with TAT to implement anti-human trafficking training and policies in their operations.
Designed for those agencies intersecting with commercial vehicle license holders, such as Departments of Transportation (DOT), Departments of Licensing (DOL), Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Departments of Revenue (DOR), the toolkit can be used in conjunction with TAT’s stateagency-specific webinar. That webinar is also cited as a useful tool in the final report of the US Department of Transportation Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking on how state agencies can partner with all modes of transportation in combating human trafficking.
“Representatives from different state agencies are often present at Coalition Builds,” said Esther Goetsch, TAT Coalition Build director. “Recognizing the key role these agencies play in the local community and that their employees might intersect with victims of human trafficking as they issue licenses or interact with the traveling public, it is imperative to train these employees on the issue. To that end, TAT created this toolkit to provide information on how agency personnel might intersect with a potential victim, specific red flag indicators to be looking for, training recommendations, case studies and best practices for agencies to consider in developing an anti-trafficking strategy.”
As part of the Driving Goodness Campaign of Vomela Companies and in recognition of the United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Humans, TAT and UPS took part in a virtual event on July 30 to discuss how companies could use their supply chains to effect change and help aid law enforcement in the discovery and disruption of human trafficking networks across North America.
Rich McCardle, president of UPS Freight, and Nicole Clifton, vice president of global public affairs for UPS, joined Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, to discuss the “whys and hows” of the UPS partnership with TAT, which began in 2016, and which has included certifying 100,000 UPS drivers in the U.S. with TAT training. UPS also uses its influence throughout the trucking industry, and the enthusiasm of its employees to fight this crime, to raise awareness of human trafficking and encourage other companies to become TAT trained.
TAT has been working to raise up a mobile army of transportation professionals to fight human trafficking since its inception, and to date, has trained more than 922.000 people. Trucker calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline alone have been responsible for generating hundreds of cases, identifying more than 1300 victims. If 911 calls by truckers were added in, which no one tracks nationally, the numbers would probably be much higher.
In order to reach as many fleets and truckers as possible, TAT looks for every commercial intersection available with trucking. It started the TAT Shipping Partners Program (SPP) several years ago to leverage pre-existing relationships between shippers and their carriers to train even more drivers. As the customer of trucking carriers, shippers are able to use their influence to help make suppliers aware of human trafficking and how they can become part of the solution.
To give shippers and manufacturers a quick overview on becoming a TAT SPP participant and activating their supply chains for social change, TAT recently completed a three-page document – a condensed toolkit –that outlines the basics on the crime and the steps companies can take to engage with TAT and the transportation professionals they work with in combating it. This document can be obtained by contacting Laura Cyrus at email@example.com.
Looking for a new tool to bring training alive for your employees? Now you can bring the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) to your workplace for a virtual event! Experience its incredible imagery and the powerful truth it conveys about human trafficking any time, any place, via your phone, tablet or computer. The FDP is a dynamic, visual tool demonstrating both the reality and devastation of trafficking through facts and survivor artifacts, as well as the critical role the transportation and energy industries are playing in combating this crime. Preview our new virtual tour now.
To further enhance the experience, schedule TAT staff to host a webinar along with the tour. We can work with you to create a memorable and impactful training event. Interested? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org today!
When the 18-wheeler rolled over the scale in mid-June at the Fort Collins, Colorado Port of Entry, Officer Jeanay Angel began what turned out to be anything but a routine inspection stop.
Almost immediately, she noticed the passenger in the truck looked significantly younger than the driver. Having recently completed the Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) in-depth law enforcement human trafficking training, she took this as a suspicious sign and pulled the truck in to verify the passenger authorization required by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration and to talk to both parties in the truck.
“In addition to the age difference between the passenger and driver,” she explained, “I parked the truck, because the girl appeared to be no visible relation to the driver and the tattoo on her neck, from a distance, looked like a barcode … like you typically find on food.”
The driver, who came into the office, had the necessary authorization and stated that the girl, who was almost 30 years younger, was his girlfriend of a few months. Angel asked if she could talk to the girl and was given permission.
“I typically do my interviews one on one,” Angel said, “so I have practice there, but, with this contact, she said everything that’s taught in the human trafficking classes about what survivors go through or what the traffickers use against them or prey on to convince the survivor to stay.” The girl, who was covered in tattoos, stated she was an out-of-work model, was broke and had cut all her own hair off, because she was depressed following her dog’s death. Angel asked her several times if she was okay, felt safe and wanted help, and the girl declined to give a clear answer.
The IDs of both the driver and passenger were clean in Colorado’s law enforcement database, so Angel told them they could go. The driver brought up human trafficking in conversation and said he thought it was a theory and scam, that he had a party bus in Oklahoma and had never been in trouble.
After they left, Angel still believed “none of it felt or sounded right,” so she ran their IDs through a national database and found an outstanding arrest warrant from Oklahoma on the driver for child sexual abuse.
“It was very hard to have the knowledge and training I’ve had and not be able to do anything about it without the help of the passenger,” Angel recalled. “It was also emotional for me to have had the attitude the driver displayed, the indicators from the passenger, and then to find out about his warrant after they left.”
She continued, “After learning about the warrant, my first step was to contact the first port they would be in contact with next in Wyoming, even though, based on the time, they most likely had passed already. I had no idea they would take my information so seriously to put out a BOLO for the truck. I hated to have to admit my mistake that I let them go, but if I wouldn’t have, he would have gotten away and she would still have been in the truck.” After contacting Wyoming troopers, Angel alerted TAT. TAT confirmed the arrest warrant in Oklahoma and also spoke with Wyoming Highway Patrol, who stopped the truck, arrested the driver and worked with Oklahoma to extradite him. Additionally, TAT made a number of other contacts to law enforcement and trucking entities to alert the driver’s company in another state of what was occurring.
“Once getting out the information to both Wyoming and TAT,” Angel stated, “finding out how many agencies were contacted from there was honestly so relieving and heartwarming. Also, getting updates frequently from different officers so I wasn’t left hanging showed they know what it’s like to have a situation like this and never getting updates.”
Using a victim-centered approach, the Wyoming State Patrol paid for a hotel room for the girl for the night, and while she said the driver hadn’t harmed her, both TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier, who provides law enforcement training, as well as members of law enforcement involved in the case, believe the girl was being groomed for trafficking. Lanier counseled the girl regarding warning signs and future involvement with “her boyfriend.”
Angel credits TAT training for knowing what she was looking at and what to do. “Without the law enforcement training and seminars put on by TAT,” she said, “I wouldn’t have been able to identify a potential victim and exploiter. Everything TAT teaches on what a victim says or does was exactly what I experienced with this young lady. With TAT’s input, we were able to contact a total of four agencies to help get her out of the situation and hopefully change her life.”
Using the recently completed digital school bus drivers training kit, supplied through Busing on the Lookout (BOTL), Tennessee has finished training all school bus drivers and daycare front-line workers statewide. “The addition of the School Bus Drivers on the Lookout for Human Trafficking training has been a great experience,” said Tennessee Highway Patrol Lieutenant Ray Robinson, director of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement/Pupil Transportation. “This course has empowered almost 15,000 school bus and daycare front-line workers to help Tennessee’s most valuable resource at what could be their most vulnerable time. The course had excellent reviews throughout Tennessee. The most telling of all reviews are the school districts who have made this training part of their local curriculum.”
Tennessee will continue using the training as a part of their curriculum during the 2020-21 school year. Kentucky has set a goal of training 14,000 pupil transportation staff, including directors of transportation, driver trainers, and inspectors, statewide by the end of the summer. So far, approximately 10 percent have reported training completion. Many districts are still in the process of training, while schools are opening a bit later than normal this year.
Elisa Hanley, branch manager of Pupil Transportation at the Kentucky Department of Education, commented, “This training is important, because our drivers are the first people to see these students in the morning and the last to see them in the afternoon. Unlike many of the school staff, bus drivers know the living conditions of so many students. They know when something doesn’t look right, and they know who belongs at the bus stops. As mandated reporters for the state, it’s important for them to know and understand what to look for. Human trafficking is happening in our state, just like every other state in the nation. These drivers may see something and may just save a life in a way they never thought of.”
With Covid-19 curtailing in-person presentations, members of the energy industry have hosted TAT in the past few weeks for online presentations on fighting human trafficking. Whiting Petroleum made TAT’s Empower Freedom program the topic of a safety moment presentation for 193 employees with Ashley Smith, TAT’s director of energy operations, providing a recap of what human trafficking is and detailing how Covid-19 is impacting the issue. Smith also provided actionable tips to parents for keeping children safe online.
Smith gave a full Empower Freedom webinar to Ovintiv Oil and Gas employees in both Canada and the U.S., training those who attended training about human trafficking, TAT’s mission and the particulars of the Empower Freedom program. The webinar was posted to Ovintiv’s corporate intranet.
Smith also presented at the ConocoPhillips Bakken Employee Forum July 22 to more than 90 attendees. At this forum, similar to a townhall, she talked about what human trafficking is, the means traffickers use, the impact of Covid-19 on trafficking and the Empower Freedom training. She said attendees showed strong interest in the topic and training throughout the following Q&A session.
“While we may not be traveling, we’re still able to reach a wide cross section of industry employees through these virtual presentations,” Smith stated. “Online, I have provided critical information to industry members in Texas, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and Canada. I believe the questions and discussions coming out of these presentations show great interest in engaging in the fight and this is exciting for the growth of the Empower Freedom program.”
An owner/operator truck driver has sold both his tractor and trailer and donated the entire proceeds — $80,000 – to Truckers Against Trafficking. The tractor, a 2015 Peterbilt 579, with an 80″ sleeper, and Great Dane trailer were listed on Truck Paper .
“We are amazed by the generosity of this professional driver,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “To sell and donate the entire proceeds of both tractor and trailer to TAT — especially in the midst of a pandemic — is above and beyond. He and his wife have our heartfelt thanks, as their donation will certainly help further the TAT mission in a significant way.”
The professional driver, who prefers to remain anonymous, has been generous to TAT over the years. His gift provides an example of what others can do if they have used equipment or property to sell and want the proceeds from those items to make a difference in the lives of others.
Justice Seekers, a one-hour, monthly webinar series for law enforcement, featuring expert panelists covering a variety of topics, held its first discussion on June 16, led by four survivor-leaders. Beth Jacobs, Sula Skiles, Liz Williamson and Annika Huff shared both their experiences and interactions with more than 125 law enforcement officers and other professionals. They also gave their best advice on how to engage with survivors.
“I want to thank you for your courage and willingness to share your stories in order to help me understand what is taking place throughout the country,” commented Captain James Thomas of the Wyoming Highway Patrol. “Your experiences have helped me understand how to better approach potential victims and to focus my efforts on developing a rapport and showing more compassion. Thank you again!”
This series is designed to deepen understanding about victims of human trafficking, give practical steps on how to engage with them, present best practices for undercover operations and share case studies of human trafficking investigations.
Due to the sensitive nature of some of the material discussed, not all of the panel discussions will be recorded and available at later dates. Therefore, it is best to plan on attending on the scheduled dates and times of the webinars.
If you are a law enforcement officer and did not receive an email with registration links and would like to attend one of the next webinars, please send us an email at email@example.com.
Truckers Against Trafficking has released new digital toolkits to aid trainers in the bus, transit and trucking sectors of the transportation industry when providing human trafficking training.
The toolkits define human trafficking, discuss the stages of the crime, provide the intersections these industry sectors have with human trafficking, detail the signs that human trafficking is taking place as well as give information on the human trafficking hotlines for both Canada and the United States. Additionally, they highlight best practices, offer simple lesson plans and share case studies.
“BOTL created these toolkits for bus and transit as a direct response to what we were learning from our industry partners in transit and pupil transportation,” explained BOTL Director Annie Sovcik. “For transit agencies looking to launch an anti-human trafficking initiative to the student transportation directors wanting to educate their drivers on how to be on the lookout for signs of trafficking among the children on their buses, these toolkits provide step-by-step guidance for management.”
TAT Executive Director Kendis Paris added, “For years CDL instructors and safety directors have been implementing our training inside classrooms. We wanted to create a helpful tool that not only assists a company in creating a comprehensive anti-trafficking protocol, but also provides instructors with a step-by-step lesson plan to guide the training process.”
Upcoming toolkits currently being created are for energy, travel plazas/truck stops and state agencies working with transportation. Completed toolkits are found on the TAT website under Resources/TAT materials.
As public health concerns around large group gatherings continue, TAT’s Coalition Build (CB) program has constructed a virtual bridge-event option until in-person CBs can resume. This summer, TAT will be co-hosting an online bridge event with the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia and the American Trucking Association.
While the exact date of the event is still undetermined, this 90-minute, live, online event will feature a Human Trafficking 101 led by the DC Attorney General’s Office, a survivor testimony, a law enforcement panel that will discuss actual case studies and trends they are seeing locally and, finally, breakout sessions for the trucking and bus industries. During the breakout sessions, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about industry-specific training, targeted action steps and ways law enforcement and industry can create a local response to combat human trafficking. For more information about this event, click here:
Additionally, the Coalition Build team has been working on a campaign to connect with state and regional human trafficking task forces across the country to resource transportation providers and law enforcement with TAT materials in areas where TAT is working to build connections. To date, the CB team has generated 23 opportunities for engagement, which include introductions to transit providers, the distribution of TAT’s law enforcement video and anti-demand resources, strategic planning of future CBs, introductions to school transportation leadership, invitations for TAT’s in-person law enforcement training and a virtual presentation to the Fresno Human Trafficking Conference on July 15.
“Human trafficking task forces across the country are building infrastructure to fight human trafficking, and TAT hopes to come alongside those efforts, offering our targeted training and resources in order to help disrupt and dismantle traffickers,” explained Esther Goetsch, TAT CB director.
Commended for the passion and commitment of its leadership and members to do whatever they could to fight human trafficking, the Mississippi Trucking Association (MTA) has received the 2020 TAT Champion Award in the Association Category.
TAT Champion Awards recognize and honor the outstanding and dedicated efforts of specific TAT partners in three categories — association, state agency and organization — whose actions have significantly furthered TAT’s work in “engaging more members of the industries we work with, as well as the efforts of more agencies and organizations within their state and our nation, in the fight to end this crime and recover more survivors and prosecute more perpetrators.”
Describing some of MTA’s efforts, TAT Executive Director Kendis Paris detailed:
Hal Miller, MTA president, said, “MTA member companies have trained almost 10,000 trucking industry employees in conjunction with TAT. These trained employees are acting as a watchdog on the American highways to combat this horrific crime.”
Speaking about the three Coalition Builds MTA hosted, he commented, “Thank you for letting us be a part of the Coalition Builds. I sincerely hope the events had as huge an impact on all the other attendees as they did on me. I already had a pretty strong understanding of the great things TAT was doing, but the real impact for me was the paradigm shift after hearing the survivor’s testimony. That story needs to be heard by as many as possible. It truly brings a whole new level of empathy and understanding that will motivate many more to support the efforts of TAT to combat trafficking. Thank you for letting us find a place to help.”
Paris remarked, “The associations, state agencies and organizations we partner with play a significant role in helping us combat the human trafficking taking place along our roadways. This year, in the Association Category, the MTA won hands down. They are inspiring and amazing, and it’s a privilege and honor to present them with this award. Their efforts are translating into saving lives.”
Revealing the truth of the adage that “necessity is the mother of invention,” Truckers Against Trafficking staff have taken the opportunity presented by COVID-19 to expand the digital resources available to help in the fight against human trafficking.
COVID-19 Video Dispatch Series
Each week, a new video is added to this series on the website. So far, these content-rich and bite-sized videos have included topics such as the impact of COVID-19 on human trafficking; a COVID-19 update for the bus industry; the impact of the virus on trafficking victims and how traffickers are likely to be operating in the pandemic; a reminder by TAT Ambassador Bill McNamee of the importance for vigilance by truck drivers in watching for human trafficking as they deliver crucial supplies; a conversation with Jake Roberson, communications director for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, on the increase in porn subscriptions during the pandemic; a conversation with Elizabeth Gerrior, associate director of Data Quality for Polaris, on the increased vulnerabilities the pandemic has created and the unchanging call volume; a discussion with Sydney Zuiker, manager of Safe Community Programs for Crime Stoppers of Houston, in keeping kids safe online; and a discussion with Liz Williamson, a survivor advocate, about the realities of familial trafficking and the importance of taking notice of those around you.
If you haven’t already done so, remember to download the TAT App for your smart phone, whether Android or iPhone. It contains the number for the National Human Trafficking Hotline as well as critical information, including red flags to look for and case studies.
Upcoming digital resources
To bridge the gap and lay the groundwork in a state for future meetings and greater impact, TAT is working on a virtual tour of the Freedom Drivers Project, its ever-popular mobile exhibit, as well as digital Coalition Builds. To continue equipping and empowering a mobile army to combat human trafficking, all of TAT’s training is available online, and there are digital briefings and niche-specific toolkits in the works as well.
Justice Seekers, a one-hour, monthly webinar series featuring expert panelists covering a variety of topics is scheduled to begin June 16 for prosecutors and members of law enforcement. This series is designed to deepen understanding about victims of human trafficking, give practical steps on how to engage with them, present best practices for undercover operations and share case studies of human trafficking investigations.
“While we believe the most effective training we provide is in person, where we can generate back and forth discussion with our audience,” explained Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, “with the uncertainty COVID-19 is causing as to when government entities will be allowed to gather their employees together again for training purposes, we felt this webinar panel series would be an effectual and accessible way for law enforcement officers and prosecutors to receive valuable information to help them in their work.”
Due to the sensitive nature of some of the material discussed, not all of the panel discussions will be recorded and available at later dates. Therefore, it is best to plan on attending on the scheduled dates and times of the webinars.
The first Justice Seekers panel will feature Survivor-leaders Beth Jacobs, Sula Skiles, Liz Williamson and Annika Huff sharing their experiences and interactions with law enforcement and their best advice on how to engage with them. There will be time for Q&A.
During this time of pandemic, gestures of generosity are appreciated more than ever. One owner-operator is selling his tractor/trailer and has decided to donate all proceeds to TAT.
This driver has a history of going out of his way to serve with his time, talents and resources,” said Helen Van Dam, director of the Freedom Drivers Project. “He’s done this consistently and has consistently been generous towards TAT, but this gift just blew me away. He’s worked so hard with this truck and treasures it. To sell it to benefit TAT is so fitting for his story and so awe inspiring. What generosity — especially in the midst of the pandemic — to remember this mission and keep it at the forefront, providing funding to serve those made vulnerable by this pandemic as well as the drivers he’s worked alongside for years. I hope there are a lot of offers on this truck to honor his gift and benefit this mission.”
If you’re in the market for either a tractor or trailer, please check these out, and remember, the proceeds for each will be used to fight human trafficking.
Driving Goodness (DG), a recently launched campaign of The Vomela Companies to magnify all the good happening in the transportation services industry, has selected Truckers Against Trafficking as its first non-profit partner.
On its website , DG describes the transportation industry as “the omnipresent heartbeat of our people. Without the industry — and the millions of hardworking people it consists of — our lives would be unrecognizably different. We’re committed to the connections we make every day, whether it’s on the highway, over the radio, or through our shared commitment to social good.”
“DG recognizes the individuals and organizations inspiring hope, while championing industry causes in a collaborative approach,” said Purpose Transformation Advisor Lou Raiola. “DG is proud to support the incredibly important work of TAT as our initial nonprofit partner in purpose.”
In addition to website recognition, the campaign, supported by 3M, plans to act on behalf of the causes, individuals, companies and industry members it highlights through in-kind support, extending their messaging in a variety of ways and showcasing examples of DG partners in action and their life-changing effects.
The Vomela Companies is the parent company of a number of graphics/printing companies. They are a full-service specialty graphics and print provider, whose services include designing and printing fleet wraps for truck, bus, airlines and trains.
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is creating a video dispatch series to describe the impact COVID-19 is having on trafficking and how TAT’s key market sectors can respond effectively. The videos are purposefully “bite-size” and content rich to encourage wide distribution and implementation across audiences. As each video is created, it will be housed on a new webpage under the Resources section of our website. Videos will cover various aspects of human trafficking during the pandemic, protecting your children online, ways to respond to people closest to you, updates from the National Human Trafficking Hotline and others.
“We are already receiving great interest from people and organizations for these videos,” commented Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “It’s our job to continue to educate our audiences to:
While people might think sheltering-in-place and the fear of catching COVID-19 would decrease human trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) says their statistics show no dip in calls during this time.
The economics of this pandemic, however, are actually increasing the vulnerability for people either choosing to participate in the sex trade or being forced to do so, i.e., trafficking victims.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the NHTH describe these vulnerable populations as having limited access to friends, family, teachers and social workers and unable to access the services that were once available. Many of them, like kids now running away from home due to abusive caretakers or families facing economic hardships and considering familial pimping, are in a worse situation than ever. When society does reopen, there may be so many individuals desperate to pay bills and feed themselves, they are willing to do just about anything an exploiter tells them.
While there are regional differences in demand statistics, based on local social distancing rules in a state/region, and some buyers, who refer to themselves as “hobbyists” on sex boards, being leery of contracting the virus, commercial sex transactions are still occurring on the streets, in hotels and at Airbnb’s, etc. In all likelihood, the buyers who are still active are the worst of the worst, thus presenting law enforcement with unprecedented opportunity to remove tens of thousands of dollars out of the sex trade/human trafficking market, if these individuals can be caught and held to account.
As always, vigilance is paramount
This is not only true for TAT’s law enforcement partners, but equally true for industry members — whether trucking, bus or energy — who are still out there and will find themselves, now and especially in a few months, in places where people in desperate situations will be.
“This is an excellent time for individuals to be educating their family members, especially their kids,” suggested Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, “as well as anyone within their sphere of influence, especially someone on the outskirts of their family who may have lost their job and was already shaky financially, as to what pimps/traffickers are really like. And think beyond sex trafficking to labor trafficking as well … especially, as we’ll see a lot of hurting businesses try to cut costs to keep their doors open and may seek to take advantage of their employees’ desperation.”
Bill McNamee joined the trucking industry 30 years ago, because, “in the Marines, we were trained, then tasked to perform. Nobody was breathing down our necks to get us to follow orders or to get the job done correctly … so trucking was a perfect fit for me, and I’ve had a successful career.”
During his career as a truck driver, McNamee, who currently works for Carbon Express, received TAT training and felt equipped “to go out there and help in the fight.” He actually made a call to the National Human Trafficking Hotline when he observed obvious pimp control over some females who were dropped off at a truck stop. He has also used his TAT training as a volunteer firefighter and medical first responder, keeping his eyes and ears open for signs of trafficking when he’s out on calls.
Recently, as a member of America’s Road Team, McNamee became inspired to become a TAT Ambassador and be able to make presentations educating more people about human trafficking. “I wanted to tell anyone who would listen all about this miserable problem we have in our world,” he said, “and I wanted to make others aware of the work we, as professional truck drivers, do to fight human trafficking.”
Earlier this year, McNamee spoke at a human trafficking seminar at the First Baptist Church in O’Fallon, Illinois. Prior to his presentation, he listened to a human trafficking survivor recount her experience as a victim and her ongoing struggle to recover. “As I sat there watching and listening to this young lady,” he remembered, “it had such an impact on me. I almost couldn’t go up there for my presentation. I had never listened to a survivor speak about the horrors of the experience or the misery that continues long after the rescue. It was life-changing for me. It literally broke my heart and put it all in perspective.”
He did make his presentation and then did a second one as a TAT Ambassador. “Both presentations resulted in people coming up to our literature table, thanking me, asking for more literature, and asking how the TAT program can come to their other organizations. Once we present this program to new folks, and they realize how important this training is and how it can help their communities and save lives, they’re eager to learn more,” he explained. “This is when I know that we at TAT are making a difference for good … I’m TAT-trained and TAT-proud.”
Host of the event, Jessica May, who is also co-founder, president and CEO of Renewed Strength Ministries, said, “Bill did a phenomenal job with his presentation. He impacted many that were in attendance, spoke with attendees at his booth, and was moving with the testimonies he shared. He is incredible, and I look forward to working with him again in the future. Thank you again for allowing him to participate in our event.”
Transportation workers, who are continuing to do their jobs in the midst of the pandemic, are receiving public recognition. Two truck drivers, both TAT Ambassadors and part of TAT’s Man-to-Man Campaign fighting demand for commercial sex, recently received recognition and gratitude for work they’re doing individually and collectively — as members of the trucking industry — during America’s COVID-19 response.
In recognition of the critical role trucking is playing in keeping America running and ensuring families sheltered in place have the necessary goods to meet their needs, President Trump presided at a special ceremony on the White House lawn in mid-April honoring truck drivers.
“In the war against the virus, America’s truckers are really the foot soldiers that are carrying us to victory,” President Trump said. “Truckers are playing a critical role in vanquishing the virus, and they will be just as important as we work to get our economic engine roaring.”
In addition to representatives from the American Trucking Associations, several drivers were invited to the podium to share personal stories of delivering critical goods during the pandemic, from hand sanitizer to medical supplies.
“As a professional driver, I am proud to stand here representing my fellow drivers out there doing the important work of delivering for America,” said Stephen Richardson, a professional driver with Big G Express from Decatur, Alabama. “I am proud to be a truck driver, and I am especially proud of the work all of the drivers are doing now in response to this crisis.”
John McKown, a UPS driver based in Pennsylvania, said he was honored to deliver thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer to the New York City Police Department after the NYPD sent an “S.O.S.” to the White House requesting it.
“My whole career’s been about service,” McKown said. “As a military veteran and also as a police officer (former), we serve the ones that need help all over the country. What a great opportunity to grab this trailer load — 88 drums of hand sanitizer — and deliver it to the NYPD. … We’ve done two shipments already. That’s almost 10,000 gallons.”
McKown was on his way to the NYPD within two hours of receiving the request for the shipment. At that point, the NYPD had reported 7,096 uniformed members out sick, or about 20 percent of their workforce. He said the officers were extremely appreciative of the hand sanitizer and noted that the shipment may well play a part in saving some of their lives.
Though COVID-19 has caused upheaval and disruption to all our lives and to the ways we both live and conduct business … while it is responsible for cancellations of plans and events as well as the creation of new schedules and priorities … while it has resulted in physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and economic challenges … Truckers Against Trafficking is still up and fully operational. We believe, now more than ever, it’s imperative we band together on behalf of the vulnerable and exploited. With that in mind, TAT would like to offer the following suggestions:
Thank a professional driver or truck stop employee — Would you join TAT in thanking all the drivers who are keeping our nation running and delivering much needed goods, and all truck stop employees who make sure they have what they need to keep trucking? Our prayers and gratitude are with them. Please take the time to express your appreciation to them and to pray for them as they serve us all.
Implement TAT Training Online — Although it’s impossible for us to gather together in person, TAT is still providing training online through our portal. Additionally, TAT staff are available to provide webinar-based trainings for your employees and/or drivers, whether you work in trucking, bus, energy, law enforcement or for a state agency … just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep being the eyes and ears — While many of us are able to work remotely, and have homes in which to do so, traffickers are still at work selling their victims online through porn and on buyer boards, as well as at locations all along our nation’s roadways. There is still great opportunity to help those who need it most, and we urge all TAT trained personnel to be extra vigilant during this time. Please watch for minors selling sex or any kind of pimp control. Trust your gut and don’t hesitate to make the call …. 911 or your local sheriff’s office in case of an emergency, or 1-888-3737-888 if you’re unsure if what you’re seeing is human trafficking.
In the first two months of this year, Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, and Annika Huff, TAT training specialist and survivor-advocate, traveled to Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and New Mexico, where they trained law enforcement, including sheriff’s officers, highway and state police, DOT enforcement officers and law enforcement and employees from a variety of other agencies.
In March, TAT Training Specialist Louie Greek conducted 2 law enforcement briefings in Colorado for both the Avon and Vail Police Departments as well as the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Liquor Enforcement team. Following those trainings, the coronavirus pandemic intervened, and law enforcement trainings in Nevada and New York were cancelled for later in the month.
As a result of the trainings, Arkansas completed implementation of the Iowa MVE Model; and Lanier and Huff have leads to follow in Mississippi to complete implementation there as well. In Oklahoma, they learned that more transit and bus companies have been trained; and Greek’s audiences in Colorado expressed interest in the casino webinar when TAT completes it and stated the briefings were beneficial as they had seen human trafficking in their communities.
One law enforcement officer in Mississippi stated, “In 21 years of law enforcement, this is one of the best classes I have been to.” Another officer in Arkansas commented, “With so many other required trainings, it was eye-opening and a reality check. This is something we need to always be aware of.”
Lanier commented, “Training law enforcement on the realities of human trafficking is extremely gratifying, when we hear the troopers and officers commit to taking a second look and to asking more questions when they make an interdiction and inspection stop. We know they got into this job to serve and protect, and we greatly appreciate their desire to use the victim-centered approach and to do right by both the case and the victim.”
Full decriminalization or legalization of prostitution does NOT end or lessen sex trafficking. Prostitution and sex trafficking are completely linked and intersected. The one creates the market for the other. Remember that there is never enough “willing supply” to meet the demand, and sex traffickers have long since filled that supply with their victims. The call for full decriminalization of prostitution and the whitewashing of this exploitation as “sex work” absolutely impacts the crime of sex trafficking. It INCREASES it. Studies show that. We must stand against the one, if we are serious about fighting the other. TAT stands in total opposition to proposals that call for the full decriminalization of prostitution. We stand with survivors of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in saying “NO!” to the full decriminalization of prostitution.
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) awarded TravelCenters of America (TA) its prestigious Champion Award in the Organization category for 2020. The award was presented Feb. 13 at TA’s biannual leadership expo in Sandusky, Ohio,with more than 850 employees in attendance, including general managers from locations across the nation and members of TA’s executive leadership team.
The Champion Award was created to recognize and honor the outstanding creative, innovative, generous and dedicated efforts of specific TAT partners, whose actions have significantly furthered TAT’s work and mission to end human trafficking, recover more survivors and prosecute more perpetrators.
“Professional truck drivers are vitally important to helping us fulfill our work. From the beginning, TravelCenters of America knew they had the audience of people we needed to reach the most. They not only invited us in; they took our mission and ran with it. They’ve trained thousands of employees on what to look for at their sites and are committed to supporting our work in whatever way they can,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “Without the support, commitment and actions of TA, we wouldn’t be as far along as we are today in the fight against human trafficking.”
Examples of TA’s work with TAT includes:
“Human trafficking is a prevalent issue and we can’t just sit back when the opportunity to help combat this crime is at our fingertips,” said Richards, who is also a member of TAT’s Board of Directors. “With a captive audience of millions of drivers on our properties and thousands of employees across the nation, we knew we could make a difference, so we did. And we will continue to do so. I’d like to thank Kendis and Truckers Against Trafficking for this honor and for leading the charge to transform our industry.”The TAT Champion Award was created in 2019 and honors state agencies, organizations and associations for their dedicated work combating human trafficking.
Heading to the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, Kentucky this year, March 26-28? Be sure to visit the West Wing and TAT’s booth, #62088. TAT staffers will be at the booth March 26, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. for the VIP time and 1-6 p.m. for all MATS attendees. On Friday, March 27, the booth will be open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and on Saturday, March 28, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Motel 6 is taking some aggressive steps in the fight against human trafficking. They have not only created an anti-trafficking program but have given it oversight, coordination and management by an internal task force, representing all key functions of the company, to ensure it receives the appropriate resources and attention.
As part of their program, they have committed to Platinum-level sponsorship for Truckers Against Trafficking, and, as a show of support for TAT, they are offering a 15-percent national discount to TAT-trained drivers. The code to access that discount is CPM64TAT. Additionally, Motel 6 is providing TAT with 24 vouchers for free, single-night stays to be used as social media giveaways in 2020.
“We’re deeply committed to the fight against human trafficking in all forms, and we continue to expand our efforts through new initiatives and partnerships,” said Rob Palleschi, CEO of G6 Hospitality. “Through vigilance, education, training of every single Motel 6 team member, and coordination with local, state and national organizations, we are focused on doing our part to battle this global problem.”
Few things are as empowering and heart-warming as hearing the story of someone who’s been recovered from sex trafficking or prevented from being forced into it. Calls are being made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline and to 911 and local law enforcement by members of the trucking, bus and energy industries. Victims are being recovered and/or prevented from becoming victimized.
TAT staff need to hear those stories!
Some “everyday hero” deserves to be named this year’s winner of the Harriet Tubman Award presented by Protective Insurance, complete with a $2500 check and a gala weekend at the Indy500. Is it someone in your company? Is it you? Is it someone you’ve heard about? Nominations must be made by April 30. The Indy500 and the award presentation are in Indianapolis, Indiana on the weekend of May 22-24. Visit TAT’s Harriet Tubman Award page for specifics on the nomination process.
To launch TAT’s new industry-specific training DVD for the energy industry in conjunction with National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, TAT staff and the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) joined a number of anti-human trafficking organizations and the Oil and Gas Trafficking Awareness Group (OGTAG) Jan. 6-10 on a tour of Houston energy companies. At seven different locations, a total of 1034 people from close to 20 organizations toured the FDP, while 509 people attended one of 10 presentations. In addition to TAT staff, other presenters included OGTAG, Elijah Rising, United Against Human Trafficking, Street Grace and the Houston Area Women’s Center. Chevron had the largest turnout of 175 people at its presentation.
Ashley Smith, TAT Energy Operations director, stated, “The power of this event will be felt throughout the year. Through individual connections at different companies, we were able to start meaningful conversations on empowering energy employees to be trained on this issue. Each company we connected with has actionable steps they can take to combat human trafficking.”
The Houston Chronicle reported that one former trafficking victim, who now works for Royal Dutch Shell in Houston, was overcome with emotion as she walked through the FDP. Memories of that harrowing experience came flooding back to Ataria Malveaux, now 43 and an operations analyst, as she toured the exhibit highlighting the risks and dangers of human trafficking in the oil and gas industry. She broke down in tears. “It was very emotional, because it happened to me,” she said. “A lot of young girls out there don’t have the awareness. They don’t have the support.”
The weeklong awareness tour was the largest event yet held by OGTAG, said co-founder Jennifer Hohman, chief information officer at Seadrill, an offshore drilling firm, in Houston. “It’s only been in the past few years that people are really beginning to talk more about this issue,” she commented. “It’s always been there, but everyone in this community is starting to take notice.”
Industry members who toured the FDP commented that the exhibit: “showed me something I thought only regularly happened in other countries;” “that we each have a responsibility to educate our children and other young people about trafficking;” “taught impactfully about the way our accepted cultural norms play a role on driving human trafficking;” “showed how prevalent trafficking is at conventions/large events and how oil and gas companies can help to impact this and help make a change;” “made me more aware of what happens when young children/adults don’t have a good support system. Awareness to a trade is often times overlooked. This has impacted me in a way that makes me want to educate myself to pay more attention to surroundings in case there might be someone who needs help.” ”
At the Jan. 15 U.S. Chamber of Commerce event “Integrating Services for Trafficking Survivors,” Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, presented an engagement toolkit for businesses filled with best practices for fighting human trafficking. The toolkit can be downloaded a s a resource from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website.
The toolkit, created by TAT, instructs businesses on resources available to enable them to provide anti-human trafficking training for employees, customers and the community, adopt anti-trafficking-in-persons policies with a demand-reduction focus and participate in victim-centered public awareness campaigns.
Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, provided the opening presentation at the USDOT 100 Pledges in 100 Days Human Trafficking Awareness Event Jan. 28 in Washington, DC. Also speaking were Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar; Marty Kemp, First Lady of Georgia; New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith; and USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao, along with senior DOT officials, leaders of the trucking, transit, airline and transportation industries and Shamere McKenzie, CEO of Sun Gate Foundation.
Presentations were followed by three panels with the topics of Fighting Trafficking in the Freight Network, Detecting Trafficking and Protecting the Traveling Public in the Passenger System and Combating Trafficking in our Communities: State and Local Approach.
This event launched a 100-day period during which the USDOT’s Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking initiative is calling on all transportation leaders to join in a commitment to employee education, raising public awareness and measuring a collective impact by signing a voluntary pledge.
Paris commented, “It was an incredible honor speaking alongside Secretary Chao at this event, and we applaud her office for their tremendous efforts in activating the transportation sector on this issue. This is essential, because we know that the transportation industry has proven itself to be critical in the fight against human trafficking, and we must harness its full powerful and potential. We call on all private and public transportation stakeholders to rise up, work together and bring their resources to bear to close loopholes to traffickers, and we urge everyone to sign the Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking pledge, as it’s going to take all of us to put a dent in one of the greatest human rights violations of our time.”
In conjunction with its partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking, Sapp Brothers Travel Centers, with 17 locations reaching from Utah to Pennsylvania, has initiated Help Now, a program designed to identify victims of human trafficking and provide them with immediate help.
Working with TAT and law enforcement, Sapp Brothers has included as program components:
Sapp Brothers is also participating in quarterly meetings of the Coalition Against Human Trafficking in Omaha and is holding educational/awareness sessions at its locations in Omaha/Council Bluffs for customers, employees and surrounding businesses, complete with a special lunch menu for those participating in the training and law enforcement providing TAT training.
“Sapp Bros. is proud to partner with Truckers Against Trafficking in the fight against human trafficking,” said Andy Richard, CEO of Sapp Bros. “TAT has proven to be on the forefront of educating, identifying and stopping human trafficking. Sapp Bros. has recognized that TAT has the best resources and gives us the best opportunity to educate ourselves and our guests to be part of the solution to irradiate human trafficking.”
In the fight against human trafficking, the more thorough the education and awareness, the better the equipping, the more people actively engaged, the greater the opportunity for success. Members of the trucking, bus and energy industries, working as extra eyes and ears for law enforcement, continue to make a significant contribution in closing loopholes traffickers are exploiting and making possible the recovery of victims.
This month is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, so be sure and share what you know with people in your sphere of influence about human trafficking and some of the efforts your industry is making to battle this crime. 2020 also marks the twentieth anniversary of the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the landmark legislation on human trafficking.
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) will be participating in a number of events as part of this month’s activities. Two of those will be in Washington, D.C. On Jan. 13, Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, will be a panelist at the USDOT’s session of the Transportation Research Board’s 2020 Annual Conference. Focus of the session will be “Combating Human Trafficking in the Transportation Sector: Everyone Has a Role.”
Two days later, Paris will speak at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event, “Integrating Services for Trafficking Survivors.” The forum will discuss techniques to empower survivors and the role of the business community and its partners to provide resources for healing. Non-governmental organizations, advocates, and community leaders have joined forces with businesses to provide housing and shelter, educational opportunities and skills-based training for survivors. Participants will also talk about the use of technology to identify trafficking victims.
Creative fundraising and generous giving from individuals and organizations contributed to TAT’s very successful two-month, end-of-year giving campaign. The campaign, with a $75,000 matching grant from N2GIVES, raised over $300,000.
A number of organizations held special employee fundraisers to provide TAT with a donation. One was Central Transport. With a goal of raising $10,000 for TAT, Central Transport ran their campaign from Nov. 18-Dec. 13. In addition to encouraging private donations, Central Transport held:
At the holiday luncheon, held Dec. 12 for more than 200 Central Transport corporate and office employees, TAT Director of Corporate Engagement Laura Cyrus provided a short Lunch and Learn presentation, and then received a check for $10,307 for TAT. The following day, more money came in and, coupled with the auction of the Christmas trees, the grand total raised came to $11,777.
Peter Dwyer, president of Human Resources at Central Transport, said, “Truck drivers are in a unique position to be the knights of the road to help people in need and to spot strange behaviors. When we heard of Truckers Against Trafficking, we knew this was something our 4,000-strong driver work force at Central Transport wanted to be a part of … not to mention our generous corporate team who raised $11,777 to help the cause!”
“It was extremely fun to be a part of the holiday luncheon at Central,” stated Cyrus. “I was so impressed with the creativity of the little fundraisers they had going throughout their campaign, and it was exciting to be a part of the PTO raffle drawing and the live auction of the Christmas trees. It’s clear that everyone at Central — from the leadership on down — is moved and motivated by TAT’s work. We’re so pleased Central is not only training its drivers and employees on human trafficking, but also that they would choose to support our work financially. Thank you to Pete, Ben, Kristen, Kelly, and Anne for their great support of our work and all the effort that went into this fundraiser … and to the Central employees across the country who participated. You all are amazing, as is your generosity!”
Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) and Coalition Builds (CB) have each taken on a new employee to help with an expanding workload.
As BOTL program specialist, Lexi Higgins is focused primarily on equipping and empowering school bus drivers to combat human trafficking. She is passionate about leveraging relationships and communication channels for education, mobilization and impact.
Throughout her professional career, Higgins has dedicated her talents and efforts towards tackling gender-based violence through systems and culture change. Past experience includes positions with the Association of Junior Leagues International, the University of Washington Women’s Center and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, where she partnered with a local NGO to train and empower rural women’s groups. She also serves in volunteer leadership roles with SAFER (Students Active For Ending Rape) and the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
“I’m excited to join such an incredible team, who are dedicated not only to combating human trafficking, but to doing it strategically and systemically,” she said. “I know the work I do with TAT will matter, and I look forward to contributing towards the already monumental achievements of the organization.”
Ruthie Stanfill fills the position of CB specialist, focusing on building strategic public-private partnerships between the trucking, bus, truck stop and energy industries with law enforcement and government agencies. She has 10 years in operational and project management.
“TAT’s effective, logical and grass-roots approach to the fight against human trafficking is why I joined the team,” she states. “I am excited to be a part of an organization that is educating organizations, public figures and businesses which can make a difference and result in the recovery of victims.”
Most donors want to give where their financial support will make an impact. 2019 has been a year of impact for Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). A few examples of that include:
Commenting on the Canada Coalition Build, Ken Seader, vice president of UPS Canada, stated, “The Coalition Build was eye opening for everyone who attended, especially listening to stories shared by previous victims, about their experiences and how they were coerced into it. I was inspired by their bravery and the work they do now to support other victims. We came away with an understanding that we need to do more to create awareness and actively train our people to look for and properly report suspected human trafficking activities. I am proud that UPS is supporting this cause through training, awareness and policy. We are committed to helping get more truckers on board to fight this injustice.”
TAT is in the second month of a two-month, end-of-year giving campaign with a $75,000 matching grant. Now is a great time to make an individual donation or host an employee fundraiser on TAT’s behalf. And for a complete picture of TAT’s 2019 impact, keep an eye out for the 2019 annual report, coming in January.
By building on TAT’s successful Coalition Build model, Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) hosted its first-ever half-day briefing that specifically brought together law enforcement with casinos and the bus companies that serve them. BOTL partnered with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and the Colorado Gaming Association to host this pilot initiative in Golden, Colorado Nov. 13.
“With casinos only legal in two small mountain towns in the state of Colorado and bus companies running either scheduled or chartered routes specifically to those casinos, this Coalition Build focused on closing loopholes to traffickers at the intersection between buses and casinos,” explained Annie Sovcik, BOTL director. “We plan to replicate this in other gaming towns in the United States, given the close connection between casinos and buses, as well as the important role that casinos also have to play in the fight against human trafficking.”
The briefing was attended by 85 law enforcement and key industry representatives in Colorado. In a survey completed at the end of the briefing, 90 percent of respondents reported they are better prepared to identify human trafficking after attending the briefing and 100 percent said they would recommend attending a briefing like this to others in their field. A Colorado State Patrol officer described the presentation given by TAT Field Trainer and Survivor-Advocate Annika Huff as “one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard.”
The Freedom Drivers Project (FDP), TAT’s in-demand mobile museum on domestic sex trafficking, is available in 2020 for a variety of events, from trucking championships to employee appreciation days to human trafficking awareness conferences and corporate/industry conferences, but it must be booked in advance, due to the logistics required and its popularity. The request form is easy to complete, so book now.
In the last few months of this year, the FDP visited BNSF Logistics headquarters in Texas, the Whiting Petroleum All-State Safety Conference in North Dakota, the UPS CACH Hub in Illinois, the UPS Ohio Valley Truck Rodeo in Indiana, N2Publishing headquarters in North Carolina and the International Foodservice Distributors Association Distributions Solutions Conference in Florida. A total of 943 people toured the exhibit at those events. Those who tour the FDP express greater awareness and understanding of human trafficking and the toll it takes on lives as well as more inspiration to become involved in the fight against this crime.
Looking for a hat, cup, flashlight or cell accessory as a stocking stuffer or gift? TravelCenters of America (TA) still has TAT merchandise available for purchase at its stores. If you don’t see it right away, ask a store employee. TA conducted a product promotion for TAT back in January and February, giving TAT $1 from every product sold those two months and raising $112,946. They still have some product left, and these items could be just what you’re looking for to complete your Christmas purchases.
by Lyn Leeburg
Communications Director, Truckers Against Trafficking
In the world of commercial sex trafficking, marketplace dynamics hold true: the demand of buyers for sexual services energizes the traffickers, pimps, exploiters and abusers to meet that demand and make a profit. They do this through force, fraud and coercion with slave labor, using a mix of underaged girls and boys, women and men, to provide services, including all forms of prostitution, pornography, personal sex slaves, stripping, etc., in a variety of venues. So, to fight commercial sex trafficking, stopping demand is every bit as important, maybe more so, than learning to recognize and report sex trafficking when you see it happening: No demand = no victim = no sex trafficking.
Since its inception a decade ago, Truckers Against Trafficking has been working with critical industries, including trucking, bus and energy, as well as law enforcement and shippers, to raise up a mobile army of transportation professionals who can provide an extra set of eyes and ears for law enforcement to close loopholes traffickers are exploiting and ensure that perpetrators are arrested and victims recovered when it comes to human trafficking, both labor and sex. We do this by educating, equipping, empowering and mobilizing the members of these industries through creating turnkey, anti-trafficking protocols and policies that activate the public and private sectors in an effort to combat human trafficking.
In 2017, we began our Man-to-Man Campaign to zero in on demand. Using top-flight drivers from the ATA America’s Road Team, as well as drivers from other company Road Teams, through our TAT Ambassadors program, we have drivers out making presentations across the country; we have life-size posters of them appearing at events alongside our mobile museum, the Freedom Drivers Project, with quotes explaining why they don’t buy commercial sex; and we have a video anyone can use to explore the attitudes and perceptions toward women that contribute to commercial sex trafficking. We provide a list of suggestions on how companies can work on lowering demand, including asking them to implement anti-trafficking-in-persons policies with a demand-reduction focus, and we provide samples of how these could read.
The argument has been made that if prostitution were legalized, sex trafficking would cease to exist. However, it is impossible to regulate an inherently harmful system to safety. In a recent article in The Guardian about the dangers of rebranding prostitution as “sex work,” author and activist Kat Brand points out that ” The whole point of the sex industry is that it offers men the chance to buy sexual access to women who do not want to have sex with them — otherwise they wouldn’t have to pay.” She goes on to describe why it is impossible to commodify consent, which the decriminalize prostitution advocates want to do: ” Perhaps the single most effective strategy hit upon so far is to pump out the myth contained in the term ‘sex work’: the myth that it is possible to commodify consent. How can sexual consent be a thing that can be bought and sold, yet we can still talk with a straight face about there being such concepts as healthy sexual relationships and meaningful consent? If, while having sex with someone, you feel repulsed by them touching you, afraid of what they might do, degraded and humiliated by the sexual acts, hurt by the hateful words they’re whispering in your ear, sore because he’s the fifth man you’ve had sex with today, exhausted from it all, traumatized, abused — the fact that you’ll get a bit of cash at the end does not change anything. There is no invisible hand in the prostitution market that magically disappears the lived experience of sexual abuse.”
All of this speaks to the issue of demand and why it must be curtailed. We urge you take the time to read through the strategies and anti-trafficking-in-persons policy examples with a demand-reduction focus that we have at the bottom of this website page and work to implement one in your company. Studies show that some of the purchased commercial sex is bought during the day from men at work. Having this policy in place will provide the necessary accountability for anyone using company resources or company time to purchase commercial sex or engage in anything that furthers trafficking. Whether you’re out on the road or behind a desk, your role in fighting human trafficking, and the demand that fuels it, is critical.
Dressember 2019 has officially started! Dressember is a 31-day style challenge benefiting anti-trafficking programs around the world, including Busing on the Lookout (BOTL)! It’s not too late to join in and be part of the impact by wearing a dress (or a tie!) every day this month. Head to dressember.org to find out more and check out the Dressember profile of TAT/BOTL as a 2019/2020 grantee: https://www.dressember.org/blog/introducing-one-of-dressembers-new-grant-partners-truckers-against-trafficking
TAT Executive Director Kendis Paris was one of two recipients of this year’s Pres idential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presented the award to Paris, and to the Responsible Business Alliance, at a ceremony Oct. 29 during a cabinet-level meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF) in the historic Indian Treaty Room at the White House . Ivanka Trump pro vided opening remarks at the presentation.
Nominated by the USDOT, Paris received this award “for her leadership of Truckers Against Trafficking and her sustained efforts to transform the Nation’s transportation sector by inspiring professionals in the trucking, busing and energy industries to combat human trafficking.”
“On behalf of all professional drivers, truck stop and bus terminal employees, I gratefully accept this award,” Paris said. “It is their daily efforts to recognize and report potential trafficking cases that are making a difference in the lives of victims across our nation. I’d also like to thank the diligent and passionate members of the TAT team for their tireless work in moving our mission forward, as well as the USDOT for the nomination and their efforts around the advisory council this year, whose report recommendations we hope become widely implemented.”
Following t he award ceremony, Paris and her guest Nikki Clifton, UPS vice president of global public affairs, remained for the meeting to hear what the various agencies have accomplished this year and plans they’ve made for the coming year to eliminate modern-day slavery through meaningful action.
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) presented the third of its inaugural-year TAT Champion Awards, this one in the association category, to the American Trucking Associations (ATA). Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, made the presentation at the American Trucking Association’s annual Management Conference and Exhibition in San Diego before an audience numbering over 1000. Chris Spear, ATA CEO, received the award on ATA’s behalf.
As the first national association to partner with TAT in October 2012, ATA’s name recognition lent credence to TAT’s cause and encouraged other early adopters to follow suit. In addition:
“TAT created the TAT Champion Awards to recognize and honor the innovative, dedicated and generous efforts of specific TAT partners in the categories of state agency, organization and association,” explained Paris. “All award winners’ actions have significantly furthered our mission by engaging the key market sectors we work with in the fight to end this crime. The ATA is an excellent example of how network leadership can affect social change, and we are thrilled to have them as our partner!”
Earlier this year Ryder accepted the TAT Champion Award in the organization category, and Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement won in the state agency category.
Without fuel, even the highest powered, most finely tuned vehicles won’t move. The same is true of organizations. Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) committed from its inception to provide training and training materials free of charge to the industries it works with.
“In the beginning, we financed our work from our own pockets,” stated Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “But the work has grown exponentially since then, both across the nation and now into Canada and Mexico, and we need additional support to continue having adequate funding.”
Three unique features of this year’s campaign include:
On TAT’s website page discussing the campaign, there are multiple ideas for employee fundraisers, as well as examples of what some companies have done in the past. TAT will even help design custom digital graphics to aid in internal communications and marketing.
Corporate engagement and the support of industry partners and individual donors is essential for our support. When an opportunity arises to reach more people or expand programs in a way that makes sense, TAT needs to be able to take it. TAT has the staff, the skills and network to make this happen. But, while the team has the knowledge base, abilities and contacts — just like a high-powered, finely tuned vehicle — there must be fuel, or, in TAT’s case, funding.
Please take time to carefully consider your end-of-year giving and fill up TAT’s tank for the promise of an exceptional 2020!!
After being open for tours at the New Hampshire Coalition Build on Oct. 16 in Concord, the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) attended a second event, “A Community Response to Human Trafficking,” hosted by the New Hampshire Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force and the United Way of Greater Nashua.
At the event, Susan Dold, TAT systems administrator, presented on the role of the trucking, bus and energy industries in combating human trafficking. She also provided suggestions for ways citizens can help fight human trafficking in their communities. Quality Carriers hauled the FDP to the event, and Josh Mason, a Quality Carriers driver, and Jon Brockway, a Walmart driver, volunteered at the FDP while it was available for tours.
“We are very grateful to TAT for bringing their mobile human trafficking exhibit to our community summit,” said Mike Apfelberg, president of the United Way of Greater Nashua. “Susan spoke eloquently and passionately about this important subject, and our participants all appreciated being able to walk through the exhibit. It puts a very human face on both the problem as well as the solutions. Thank you so much to TAT for supporting this important work.”
Earlier in the day, the New Hampshire Coalition Build achieved the following results:
The Board of Directors for Truckers Against Trafficking has elected its first representative from the bus industry, Linda Burtwistle, president and CEO of Coach USA and Megabus.com. Burtwistle has over 20-years’ experience in the international transportation industry. She previously served as president of First Student and president of First Transit in the United States, as well as CFO of the Virgin Rail Group in the United Kingdom. She currently sits on the board of the American Bus Association and was recently named vice chair of the USDOT Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking. She has helped open doors for BOTL to other bus companies in North America.
“I am honored to have been invited to join the board of TAT, said Burtwistle. “They are a wonderful organization, fully committed to their cause. I am very much looking forward to working with TAT and the bus industry to support the eradication of these heinous crimes.”
In the past year, Coach USA has BOTL-trained and registered over 2,600 bus drivers and other employees in the U.S. and Canada. One of these BOTL-trained drivers and safety directors from the Lakefront Lines subsidiary in Ohio assisted in the recovery of a victim and arrest of an alleged trafficker after a young woman asked the bus driver for help, and the company immediately got law enforcement involved. For these actions, the driver and safety director were awarded TAT’s prestigious Harriet Tubman Award, an annual award presented by Protective Insurance.
In addition to training, Coach USA has provided financial support to TAT/BOTL as a Silver Level corporate sponsor, and Megabus donated ticket vouchers for survivors to access. In the month of August alone, five Megabus vouchers were used to help survivors access specialized services.
With the opening of the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline earlier this year, operated by the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking (CCEHT), with whom TAT partners, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) has been working to lay a strong foundation for an effective launch into that nation. Here are two of the most recent happenings:
TAT Canada Director
Heather Fry joins TAT as Canada director. Founder and former executive director of Impact Orphans, Heather has been working on behalf of the vulnerable and exploited for over a decade. “Human trafficking is an issue I feel very strongly about,” she stated, “so it is truly an honor to be part of such an impactful organization as TAT. As we launch into Canada, our aim is to build strategic partnerships within the public and private sectors that will drive momentum in tackling this dreadful crime. The expertise of Canadian industry leaders in trucking, bus and energy will be key as we enter the Canadian market and look for distinctives that maximize our efforts and impact in Canada. I am thrilled to partner with our neighbors in Canada to further build our mobile army and extend TAT’s reach throughout North America.”
Coalition Build: Briefing on Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Canada
TAT and CCEHT will cohost a Coalition Build (CB) on Oct. 29 at the Thomas Reuters Customer Care Center in Toronto, Ontario. Designed to activate public-private partnerships to combat human trafficking, the CB will bring together key trucking, bus, truck stop, and energy industry stakeholders, alongside law enforcement and government agencies. Participants will learn about TAT’s work in the United States and explore ways to partner, using existing successful strategies and models for implementation. The three-hour event will consist of presentations by CCEHT, TAT and a survivor leader and end with a panel discussion, including law enforcement and industry partners.
Esther Goetsch, TAT’s Coalition Build director, enthused, “CCEHT has been very pleased to have TAT come to their headquarters in Toronto for strategic meetings, to meet their team and learn more about each other’s work. They have been sending out the invitation for the CB to both local and national partners and have found those interested and excited to attend and learn more about TAT. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be at the meeting, and they have also expressed enthusiasm about TAT expanding into Canada. We are inviting all of our U.S. partners with Canadian counterparts to help us bring the critical stakeholders to the table. Many have responded quickly and enthusiastically about attending. But we have room for many more.”
If you’re interested in attending the Oct. 29 Coalition Build in Toronto, click here to register.
Kendis Paris, TAT’s executive director, presented on human trafficking, the basics of TAT and the components of TAT’s partnership with Travel Centers of America (TA) to headquarters employees in Cleveland to help them understand their role in the fight against human trafficking. This is TAT’s first time to present at TA headquarters. TA has partnered with TAT since 2011, is a Freedom Driver level sponsor and Barry Richards, TA president and COO, sits on the TAT Board of Directors.
The following day, Paris provided the keynote address for the annual luncheon of the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking in Cleveland. Among the audience were members of Ohio DOT, the Ohio Turnpike Commission, TA and Lyft. This event, sponsored by TA, is both a community awareness event and a fundraiser for the Collaborative.
“In addressing both the groups at TA Headquarters and at the Collaborative’s luncheon, I was able to shine the spotlight on our excellent partnership with Travel Centers of America, which has brought their resources to bear in combating the crime of human trafficking and has made a significant impact,” Paris elaborated. “The Collaborative to End Human Trafficking shares a like-minded approach with TAT, insofar as they are all about targeted systems change with key stakeholders to create a safety net for victim recognition and recovery. It was a pleasure being with both groups, and seeing firsthand the great work being done in Northeast Ohio.”
Law enforcement from throughout North America attended the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) conference in Biloxi, Mississippi, Sept. 23-29, giving Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) the opportunity to meet with long-time partners as well as make connections and form new partnerships. TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier presented to the audience of over 600, and also joined with TAT Canada Director Heather Fry and TAT Training Specialist Louie Greek to network with those in attendance.
“Just as the Great American Trucking Show and the Mid-America Trucking Show are critical events for TAT staff to engage with trucking industry stakeholders as well as individual drivers each year, the CVSA conferences are vitally important for TAT in connecting with law enforcement from around North America,” explained Lanier, “working together to combat human trafficking and making alliances with the top commercial vehicle enforcement officers in each state to strategically and systematically close loopholes to traffickers who seek to exploit our nation’s highways.”
By the end of the conference, TAT efforts had resulted in:
Annie Sovcik, director of Busing on the Lookout (BOTL), announces BOTL’s selection as a partner for Dressember 2019. Dressember hosts an annual style challenge where men and women take on the creative challenge of wearing a dress or tie every day in December. This simple act has resulted in over $7.5 million raised for the fight to end human trafficking.
This year, your participation in Dressember will support BOTL’s mission. The Dressember style challenge is a fun and easy way to make a difference and get involved. Simply make a campaign page on their website, set a goal and start spreading the word. You can join a team, start your own team or do the challenge solo. Dressember will provide you with resources and stories to motivate, equip and encourage you along the way. Find out more and sign up at Dressember.org.
“We are delighted the Dressember Foundation is supporting our work with the bus industry,” said Sovcik. “With this support, we will be able to expand the efforts of the BOTL program to facilitate training and network building between law enforcement, casinos and bus companies operating in gaming towns, as well as increase the reach of our victim-centered awareness campaigns.”
Attracting 95 representatives from DC, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, the Mid-Atlantic Coalition Build, held Aug. 1 in Hanover, Maryland, rendered strategic results for Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). Partnering with three national associations, two state associations, the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), and the Maryland Department of Transportation to host this training event, TAT concluded the event couldn’t have gone better.
“The Mid-Atlantic Coalition Build was a great example of what can happen when a diverse group of individuals, representing various sectors in law enforcement, government and the transportation industry, come together to leverage their influence and resources to combat human trafficking,” Esther Goetsch, TAT Coalition Build director, stated. “The discussion at the end of the meeting was lively, honest and informative, and I think we’ll see many doors for TAT and Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) open throughout the country as a result of the meeting.”
Already the Pennsylvania and DC attorney’s general offices are interested in co-hosting Coalition Builds in 2020; additional speaking opportunities for TAT are emerging through the FMCSA, the Maryland Human Trafficking Investigators Seminar and the National Sheriff’s Association Annual Conference; the Public Service Commission of Maryland wants to partner with TAT and BOTL to distribute materials to the bus industry and other transportation sectors they regulate; and the Maryland State Department of Education is considering introducing BOTL to all school bus drivers statewide.”
Thomas Keane, director of the Office of Safety Program for the FMCSA, said, “I leave today feeling both sad at the realities of how prevalent this crime is, but also hopeful, because I know exactly what my agency can do to combat it.”
Consejo Ciudadano, TAT’s partner in Mexico, created a program, Guardianes Del Asfalto, which is replicated on TAT’s model of working with private industry in the fight against human trafficking. They have just released their first 12-minute, industry-specific training film . Guardianes del Asfalto is a program of Consejo Ciudadano, a Mexican NGO dedicated to serving the citizens of Mexico through a series of socially responsible programs. Guardianes del Asfalto started in December 2017 and consists of online training for members of the Mexican trucking, bus and taxi industries. The training film defines human trafficking and provides red flags to watch out for and actions to take if human trafficking is suspected. They also have wallet cards with red flag indicators of human trafficking available for members of the transportation industry.
Thanks to the generous donation of space for the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) by Randall Reilly, Truckers Against Trafficking drew a sizeable crowd at the Great American Trucking Show (GATS) in Dallas Aug. 22-24.
“We had an amazing time with our volunteers from Omnitracs, BNSF Logistics and Walmart, who helped hand out over 10,000 wallet cards to attendees and companies and encouraged 1,210 people to walk through the Freedom Drivers Project,” said Susan Dold, TAT systems administrator. “We can’t do what we do without the support of everyone in the trucking industry, and now there are more people out there aware of the realities of domestic sex trafficking, the signs to look for and the knowledge to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline if they see it.”
Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) has launched a victim-centered campaign in Las Vegas in partnership with the Nevada Highway Patrol and made possible with donated advertising space from Vector Media. BOTL victim-centered posters can now be seen at bus shelters and on buses throughout the city of Las Vegas. These posters, created in consultation with survivors of domestic sex trafficking, use language and images to catch the eye of victims, so they know there are resources out there to support them.
In seeking to reach victims with this campaign, Trooper Brian Drohn with the Nevada Highway Patrol emphasized, “You’re not alone. We’re here for you. Our hands are outstretched, and we want to help. This life does not need to be your reality — your nightmare — anymore.” The posters will be up in Las Vegas for up to a year.
The launch of this campaign is just one of several major milestones the BOTL program, now in its second year, has made in recent months. As transit agencies in 21 states are beginning to adopt the BOTL training, and student transportation partners in 27 states are sharing the BOTL materials with school bus drivers, the program is adding thousands more eyes and ears in communities throughout the country.
This summer, Annie Sovcik, BOTL director, has done train-the-trainer sessions with school bus trainers in Illinois and Tennessee, as both states prepare to roll-out the BOTL training during the 2019/2020 school year, reaching a combined total of almost 50,000 school bus drivers. Beyond that, in the months of June and July, Sovcik and TAT Training Specialist Louie Greek have addressed student transportation leaders at two national conferences hosted by School Transportation News in Indianapolis, Indiana and Reno, Nevada and at state pupil transportation association conferences in Wisconsin, Maine and South Carolina.
BOTL has reached new transit audiences in the Pacific Northwest, as well as transit providers on a national level. First Transit, a major transit contractor, has been training all of its 12,000 bus drivers in 39 states, and the National Rural Transit Assistance Program, which many tribal and rural community transportation providers rely on for their training needs, has incorporated BOTL into its online course offerings.
This year’s Harriet Tubman Award winners were employees of the bus industry who had been trained with BOTL materials.
The Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) has published a mid-year report detailing its impact for the first six months of 2019, honoring the companies which have hauled the FDP the most and demonstrating how its presence has aided other TAT programs in the work they do.
Wherever it goes, the FDP gains fans, like Laurie Dodge, Junior League Chief Brand Officer, who said, “TAT’s Freedom Drivers Project offered sage words during a riveting standing-room-only panel conversation with (anti-human trafficking and children’s rights leaders) Theresa Flores, Carol Smolenski and Kate Lee and a hands-on training in truck-stop activism. These opportunities were invaluable to League leaders, as they work closely with partners in communities near and far to eradicate this horrific epidemic.”
TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier and Field Trainer and Survivor-Advocate Annika Huff have completed two week-long July trips to various locations in Oregon to train 167 law enforcement officers two years running.
In 2018, they trained Oregon State Patrol (OSP) and various law enforcement from Oregon DOT (ODOT) in Roseburg, Bend, Salem and Portland. This July, they trained OSP, ODOT and local police and sheriffs departments in Central Point, Klamath Falls, LaGrande, and The Dalles.
“In traveling the state of Oregon to train on the realities of human trafficking, we have met dedicated officers in every city who become both enraged and impassioned to fight this crime against humanity,” declared Lanier. “We’re grateful for the commitment of ODOT to sponsor the eight trainings that have been held in the last 12 months across their state. In recognizing the trucking and busing industries as critical in the fight against this crime, adopting our Iowa MVE model and redoubling efforts to raise awareness about the indicators of trafficking, Oregon is making a difference!”
On surveys completed by class participants, one ODOT officer wrote, “Very powerful and amazing information. It’s going to take me time to fully process all of this information, but I feel like I have a far greater responsibility with my position than I did before this presentation. I also come from a family of truckers who are in the industry. They will all be getting this information.”
Some of the actions taken by Oregon law enforcement as a result of the trainings have included expanding the TAT wallet card distribution at all weigh stations and ports of entry throughout the state, handing out TAT materials to each professional driver at a 48-hour truck inspection detail and introducing BOTL materials to the busing companies in the state. Lanier says law enforcement in the towns just trained will be both continuing and expanding their efforts in reaching the CV industry.
TAT’s Iowa MVE (Motor Vehicle Enforcement) model continues to gain traction across the nation as law enforcement carefully consider the actions they can take to fight human trafficking by working more closely with transportation. Forty-six states have now adopted TAT’s Iowa MVE model in part or in full, up from 40 states at the end of 2018. Nineteen of those have adopted the model fully, up from five states at the end of last year.
On TAT’s State Agency Initiatives page on the website, an interactive map provides a progress report for each state regarding the model. By clicking on the icon in each state, a reader can learn if the state has had a Coalition Build (CB) as well as the top three actions being taken in the state. If there was a CB, the CB impact report is provided, along with a state impact report. Law enforcement (LE) training reports will soon be available through the interactive map as well, but until then, those reports are available on the law enforcement training page .
Examples of some of the most recent state action steps to comply with the model include:
As law enforcement begins Iowa MVE implementation, new LE trainings are often requested. Indiana and New Hampshire have requested TAT’s four-hour trainings, while Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada and other states are looking at potential dates that would work for their officers.
“By implementing the different elements of the Iowa MVE model, state agencies and state patrols are able to use the purview of their offices to raise awareness about human trafficking, recognize it themselves and help transportation industry professionals do the same,” asserted Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director. “It is critical to helping close loopholes to traffickers who rely on no one noticing them or their victims. Our goal is to see each state in the US implement the model completely … or as many of its components as possible. When the messaging is consistent throughout our nation about what this crime is, and the information is specific to the industries receiving it, we will see impact.”
In this inaugural year of the TAT Champion Awards , TAT honored Ryder System, Inc. in June as the TAT Champion in the Organization category, presenting the award at Ryder’s 22nd Annual Carrier Quality Award event with more than 150 nationwide carrier representatives in attendance.
Laura Cyrus, TAT director of corporate engagement, presented the award to Ryder Chairman and CEO Robert Sanchez, and spoke about the many ways Ryder has “gone above and beyond” to help champion TAT’s anti-human trafficking message and mission, since TAT became a 501c3 in 2011.
In addition to having had a Ryder representative on TAT’s board of directors since 2011, Ryder has consistently been a high-level sponsor, a “best-practice example” for a carrier and has championed TAT’s cause through introductions to other industry leaders and events.
Among its best practices with TAT, Ryder has:
Cyrus stated, “Last winter, our small team carefully deliberated who the winners of this first round champion awards should be. When we came to the Organization category, I’ll be honest, we’ve had incredible support from carriers, corporations and industry professionals over the years. However, Ryder stood head and shoulders above the rest. Thanks to the early adoption and support of the program by long-standing TAT board member Scott Perry, who was the former Chief Technology and Procurement Officer of Global Fleet Management Solutions at Ryder, Ryder was one of the very first companies that caught our vision and understood how industry could come around and support this work, long before other organizations did. Ryder led by example, and there were many who followed, because Ryder is an industry leader and recognized as such. The influence and impact Ryder has leveraged on our behalf are truly exponential.”
In receiving the award, Sanchez said, “Ryder employs 9,500 professional drivers. That’s a lot of eyes out there on the highways and at truck stops and rest areas … those remote spots where it’s easy for the wrong kind of behavior to go unnoticed or unreported … and where a single person making the decision not to look away, not to turn a blind eye to what they see, can make all the difference to someone in need. Ninety-five hundred truckers at Ryder alone, and it’s still not enough. That’s why we’re all fortunate to have a group like Truckers Against Trafficking that leads the charge, organizes the transportation industry, and turns 9,500 drivers at Ryder and thousands elsewhere into a reconnaissance army of thousands of trained professional drivers committed to ending human trafficking.”
He continued, “I’m personally very proud of the relationship Ryder shares with Truckers Against Trafficking. Not only our drivers but also our technicians, managers, and executive team have gone through TAT training on how to identify the warning signs of human trafficking and how to report it. It works out to about 25,000 employees in all, more than half of Ryder’s total workforce, spread across the U.S. and Canada. Our own Stephanie Wicky sits on the TAT board of directors. And we’re proud to support TAT directly through the Ryder Charitable Foundation. Sex trafficking can only exist in the shadows or when good people choose to do nothing. TAT is shining a spotlight into the dark places where trafficking thrives, and they’re inspiring an industry to get involved and do something good.”
In addition to the award presentation, Ryder gave Cyrus presentation time to speak about TAT’s work to those in attendance, helping once again to raise awareness and support of TAT’s mission.
Earlier this year, the Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement Agency received the TAT Champion Award in the Agency category.
To help TAT celebrate its tenth anniversary, the Greenbaum Foundation and Change a Path put up $125,000 in matching grant money and gave TAT two months to match it. That period ended June 18, and thanks to the generous giving of our donors and sponsors, TAT received $294,988 during that period, of which $155,759 was “new money,” which means it came from completely new donors or sponsors or from donors and sponsors who increased their regular giving.
“This is very exciting to all of us at TAT,” said Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director. “With our planned expansion into Canada this year, a new training video for our Energy Program, new materials for Busing on the Lookout, and the continual need to provide training materials nationwide to trucking and busing, our budgetary needs are demanding, and this incredible outpouring of support to obtain this matching grant will really help. Thank you to everyone!”
Larren Tarver, Lakefront Lines bus driver, and Lauren Gnall, district safety director for Lakefront Lines and Coach USA, have received the 2019 TAT Harriet Tubman Award presented by Protective Insurance.
The award, which carries with it a $2500 check, is named in honor of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, whose courageous personal actions resulted in the transportation of 300 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad and whose overall role in the freedom movement was instrumental in the freeing of thousands more. Born into slavery in 1820, Miss Tubman was the first African American woman buried with full military honors and the first to have the inaugural Liberty ship named after her – the SS Harriet Tubman – by the US Maritime Commission.
When the Lakefront Lines Bus Team in Ohio, which had recently completed the Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) training, was notified that a female passenger on one of their buses was allegedly being held against her will and forced into prostitution by a male passenger on the same bus, they immediately sprang into action. As Tarver calmly stopped the bus, he reassured the other passengers, while being as inconspicuous as possible about the reasons for the delay. He notified dispatch and triggered an internal response system within the Lakefront Lines Safety Team that swiftly communicated with law enforcement and ensured police were on the scene as quickly as possible. Gnall and a colleague met the bus on the side of the highway almost immediately. Before the bus got back on the road – and safely transported the other passengers to their destination – the suspect was arrested; the alleged victim was recovered; and the case was referred for further investigation.
“TAT provides excellent training through their BOTL video,” said Gnall. “It opened the eyes of all the employees here at Lakefront Lines and Coach USA. We did not think this would happen in our area, but being aware of what is going on around us at all times and knowing what to look for really is the key. To say that the Award Ceremony and weekend getaway were astounding would be an understatement. We were treated like royalty, and I cannot say thank you enough. The award itself is also very important, because it helps to get people talking about these types of situations that would not have been a topic of conversation otherwise. I hope this keeps the conversation going in the future and opens up more opportunities for training in other industries.”
Tarver declared, “The training really helped me in feeling aware and alert of my surroundings. It really opened my senses to be on the look-out for possible dangers to myself and other people. I felt empowered by thinking of the family members of the victim, and if I wouldn’t have acted in the way I did, I would have probably never had a chance later, and the victim could still be in danger til this day. I can say in my three years of professional driving, I thought I would never encounter a situation like this, although I knew the possibilities were high especially after driving through major cities such as New York and Las Vegas. Some red flags that are imprinted in my mind for future situations like this one are to have a sense of all your passengers, look for any discomfort, nervousness, or anything that may seem odd in people acting strangely on my bus. I believe if everyone steps up to the plate and does the right thing, together, we can make a huge difference in the society we live in. I, too, have a daughter. She’s three years of age now but will eventually ride public transportation, and I care for my daughter’s safety 100 percent. I’m honored to be this year’s winner for the award, and I want to thank my colleagues and Lauren for making that moment in my life possible by their quick responses as well.”
Tarver and Gnall received their award from Laura Cyrus, TAT corporate engagement director, at the Protective Insurance Protective 500 Event in Indianapolis, IN, on May 25. Protective Insurance partners with TAT.
“As an organization, we know that it’s the men and women of the transportation industry — truck drivers and bus drivers — the folks out on the road day in and day out, that are the real heroes of this work,” said Cyrus. “It was an incredible honor to get to award Larren Tarver and Lauren Gnall as our joint winners of the 2019 Harriet Tubman Award presented by Protective Insurance. I must also thank Protective Insurance for supporting our work and this award and providing the platform and lovely venue from which we were able to honor Larren and Lauren. The entire team at Protective is thoughtful and fully engaged in supporting the work of TAT. We are grateful to have them as partners in this work!”
Collin Stewart, owner of Stewart Transport, submitted the winning bid of $137,500 for the “Everyday Heroes” Kenworth T680 auctioned May 17 at Ritchie Bros. in Phoenix. Coupled with additional donations raised by Don Blake, new truck sales manager at Inland Kenworth – Phoenix, and Inland Kenworth, his bid helped net more than $167,000 in support of Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT).
Stewart Transport, a Phoenix-based company specializing in delivering refrigerated and dry van freight, is a long-time supporter of TAT and its mission to end human trafficking. Stewart attended and placed the winning bid at the live auction. For Stewart, it was hard to pass up the opportunity to place a bid on a truck that supports an organization he believes in. “Our new Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 will allow us to help support and promote TAT’s efforts in the fight against human trafficking,” he said. “Our drivers are TAT trained, so they’re knowledgeable about the program and know how to help identify human trafficking on the road. This Kenworth T680 will be a great addition to our fleet.”
“The Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 auction was a fantastic success, thanks to our incredible sponsors, who generously donated parts and money to build this special truck,” said Blake, a TAT board member and the driving force behind this year’s auction. “Two years ago, our first Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 auction netted $83,000 for Truckers Against Trafficking, and served as a stepping-stone to increase the trucking industry’s awareness of human trafficking. That effort helped us to achieve this year’s even larger donation.”
The $167,000 donation is the largest one-time gift in TAT’s history, according to Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “We are so grateful to have Collin and Stewart Transport submit the winning bid. Not only will Collin’s generous purchase help us fund our programs, but they obtain a high-performing Kenworth T680 that will serve as a great addition to its fleet,” Paris said.
“The industry again showed its generosity by coming together to support TAT and its important work. The funds will be used to expand our work within the trucking industry, and further our partnerships with law enforcement, additional modes of transportation and multiple countries, in the fight against human trafficking. Special thanks to Kenworth and Ritchie Bros., as well as all of our amazing sponsors. And, I can’t say enough about Don Blake’s contributions to TAT. This major fundraising project required a tremendous amount of time and effort, and illustrates his dedication to our cause.”
According to Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director, Blake’s dedication to TAT and the ultimate goal of ending human trafficking is admirable. “Don is an excellent example of making a difference by putting his heart into something he cares about,” he said. “He had the idea to auction off an Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 two years ago, and it’s great for Kenworth to help him do it again this year. He is truly an inspiration to all of us, and an excellent representative of Inland Kenworth and the Kenworth dealer network. This auction showed how the industry can pull together to make a difference and support the fight against human trafficking.”
To make the Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 truck possible, sponsors at the platinum, gold, silver and bronze levels donated parts and money to help in the assembly process. Providing industry support for the Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 are: Platinum Level : Kenworth Truck Company, Inland Kenworth and Ritchie Bros; Gold Level: PACCAR Engine, SEG Automotive, and Swift Charities; Silver Level : Bendix, Bridgestone, Eaton, FlowBelow, Horton, Jost, Meritor, PACCAR Financial, PACCAR Parts, Trimble, Utility Trailer Sales of Arizona, and WABCO; Bronze Level: Alcoa, Arizona Rock Product Association, Arizona Trucking Association, Beaver Stripes and Molding, Chevron, ConMet, Davco, East Penn, Ex-Guard®, National Seats, PrePass / Help Inc, Sheppard, and Tectran.
The Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement unit (MVE) received TAT’s first-ever Champion Award in the state agency category, for their unparalleled work in combating the crime of human trafficking. “We designed this award to honor an organization, state agency and association on an annual basis whose creative, innovative, generous and dedicated efforts have significantly furthered TAT’s work in engaging more sectors in the fight to end this crime,” explained Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “We’re looking forward to honoring our winners in the organization and association categories later in the year!”
At the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance meeting in St. Louis on April 1, TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier presented the award to Chief David Lorenzen of the Iowa MVE. In presenting the award, she said, ” The Chief and his office are exemplars of what it means to be a TAT Champion. The Chief is the creator of the Iowa MVE model that 43 states have now adopted, in part or in whole, with more states working to adopt this year. His leadership and example in determining new ways to maximize awareness and help identify pathways for engagement for state agencies and officers resulted with the Chief being appointed to participate on the US DOT Advisory Committee.
“The Iowa MVE agency is fully engaged in the fight against human trafficking and lead by example,” she continued. “Iowa MVE officers have been tireless advocates within their sphere of influence. MVE officers have visited every truck stop and nearly every trucking company in the state of Iowa with TAT information. The Chief and many of his officers train a variety of sectors and audiences about the realities of human trafficking across Iowa and beyond. Through their influence, school bus drivers in Iowa are in the process of receiving TAT’s busing-specific training as well — that’s over 11,000 professional bus drivers who will know what signs to look for as they transport our nation’s children to and from school.”
“It’s a very humbling honor for the men and women of Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement to receive this award,” Chief Lorenzen stated. “MVE staff understand the scope of this criminal activity and are committed to marshal the needed resources to educate, inform and collaborate with the trucking community, along with other government and law enforcement personnel, in efforts to attack this crime. We will never forget the victims and will continue to seek ways to make an impact.”
In response to a request from TAT’s Ambassador drivers for more tools they could use when speaking with other drivers about the demand for commercial sex and its relationship to sex trafficking, TAT has created a video that explores the myths and attitudes that create demand.
This video can get the conversation started, not only among drivers, but in men’s groups, corporations and with men one-on-one. It is accompanied by resources and steps men, groups and corporations can take to help change ideas, attitudes and policies they may have, as well as cultural norms they see being lived out around them.
“As demand is an issue every person should be aware of and talking about, we urge you to watch this video and then share Addressing Demand: Man to Manwith your networks,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “The truth is that if there is no buyer, there will be no victim, and there will be no sex trafficking.”
This 2019 Kenworth T680 Special Edition Everyday Heroes truck is a head-turner. And buying it helps fight human trafficking, as proceeds of the sale will go to Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) to help fund education and awareness throughout the trucking, truck stop and busing industries.
Truckers Against Trafficking and Inland Kenworth unveiled the Everyday Heroes truck at the National Mall in Washington DC in January, kicking off a four-month tour with stops at TMC Annual Meeting in Atlanta (March 18-21), and the Mid-America Trucking show in Louisville (March 28-30), before going on exhibit at Richie Bros.’ Houston auction (April 16), Denver auction (May 8) and finally the Phoenix Auction (May 17), where the truck will be auctioned.
The special Kenworth T680 is fully loaded with a 76-inch sleeper, 485-hp PACCAR MX-13 engine, and PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission.
With the demand continuing to grow for staff to make presentations nationwide, TAT has hired Louie Greek as a training specialist.
With over 20 years of law enforcement, military and humanitarian aid experience, Greek has helped recover victims while working human trafficking investigations with law enforcement in countries such as Cambodia, Uganda, Myanmar, Nepal, Peru and Thailand, or working with local law enforcement to overseas military deployments in Iraq and the Balkans.
Working with international law enforcement agencies such as the F.B.I., Interpol, Royal Thai Police, Thailand Department of Special Investigations and Department of Homeland Security, he either led, facilitated or coordinated over 60 law enforcement anti-human-trafficking operations, liberating over 740 human trafficking victims with the arrest of more than 120 suspects. In Thailand, he assisted in the creation of the Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children (TICAC) Laboratory at the Royal Thai Police Academy, which is responsible for hundreds of arrests related to human trafficking, smuggling of migrants and child exploitation.
He served 20 years in the Unites States Army (Reserve). During his time as a Captain, he trained soldiers on the Department of Defense’s Trafficking in Persons awareness initiative. His interest in combating human trafficking has steered him to acquire hundreds of hours of anti-human-trafficking education and, in turn, he shares that knowledge in presentations, trainings and awareness.
With a strong desire to serve, his passion in this fight for the cause is inspired by one of his most admired abolitionists, Harriet Tubman. Because she said, “I freed a thousand slaves; I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves,” Greek believes education and awareness are vital to winning this fight.
“After spending the last five years assisting law enforcement in human trafficking investigations around the world,” said Greek, “I am happy to now be a part of the TAT team, combating domestic sex trafficking in our country. I feel privileged to be a part of TAT’s work, alongside such professionals in the transportation and law enforcement communities. One of the great things about working for TAT is its many fantastic programs. My current favorite is the recent release of our Demand video from our Man-to-Man campaign.”
It’s not too late to give to the $125,000 matching grant the Greenbaum Foundation and Change a Path are offering in honor of TAT’s decade of existence and service. To date, $84,764.60 have been donated. You have until June 18 to donate to this matching grant campaign, so we can continue to raise up a mobile army of transportation professionals dedicated to discovering and disrupting human trafficking networks.
Please consider wishing us Happy Birthday with a financial gift at this time so we can obtain this matching grant. Our impact in this fight continues to grow!
TravelCenters of America LLC (TravelCenters), operator of the TA®, Petro Stopping Centers® and TA Express® brands, presented a check for $112,946 to Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) at this year’s Mid-American Trucking Show.
In partnership with High Noon Sales, TA and Petro Stopping Centers travel stores sold branded TAT merchandise for the first two months of 2019, which included National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. With one dollar from every item of TAT merchandise sold, the goal was to give $100,000 to TAT to support their work.
“We are so happy that we were able to not only meet but exceed our goal for this very important program,” said Barry Richards, president and COO of TravelCenters. “As the industry leader, it is so important for us to bring attention to this problem and to do what we can to help prevent it.”
High Noon Sales VP of Sales and Marketing Justin Hoffman participated in the check hand off to TAT. “We were thrilled to be able to partner with TA to raise funds for Truckers Against Trafficking,” he said. “And we’re proud that our merchandise was selected for the campaign. We gladly matched the contribution that TA made.”
Helen Van Dam was on hand to accept the check for TAT. “The support we have gotten from TA for nearly a decade, and also from High Noon, will make a big impact to future programming,” she stated. “We’re grateful for the help in bringing awareness to the issue.”
TA has partnered with Truckers Against Trafficking since 2011.
Thanks to the Everyday Heroes Truck exhibiting in the heavily visited South Lobby of the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS), the check presentation of $112,946 to TAT by TravelCenters of America LLC for the sale of TAT-branded merchandise, multiple media interviews and the Happy Birthday banner at the TAT booth, TAT received maximum exposure at this year’s show.
In addition to the large sign posted in front of the Everyday Heroes truck highlighting Truckers Against Trafficking, Kenworth also allowed TAT staff to occupy their exhibit and share with truckers who visited. Wayne Walker, a Walmart driver, volunteered with TAT staff all three days of the show, talking to truckers and encouraging them to become TAT Trained. TAT staff handed out more than 3,000 wallet cards and received verbal commitments from companies and individuals that they were going to train with TAT materials.
Some 85 UPS executives had the opportunity to tour the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) at the annual UPS Management Conference in Atlanta, March 17-19. Many found it “sobering,” and eye-opening, as they experienced the emotional impact of human trafficking through the displays and survivor artifacts and the toll this crime takes on lives.
President of UPS Freight Rich McArdle commented, “One of the first lines of defense to stop human trafficking is awareness. TAT and the FDP teach all of us how to be more aware of human trafficking: who the victims are — and you may be surprised; what to be on the look-out for; what to do if we think we’ve come across someone who’s been trafficked. When it comes to combating human trafficking, I’m very proud of how UPS supports TAT and the FDP.”
“We were honored to have the Freedom Drivers Project on site for two days, stated Susan Dold, TAT systems administrator, who joined the FDP for the conference. “UPS has done a tremendous job educating their staff on our mission and ensuring their drivers are trained. Having the FDP on site allowed another step into the world of trafficking, why it’s imperative to stop it and the good work UPS, and all trained truck drivers, are doing to combat it.”
As BOTL continues to expand and reach all segments of the bus industry in the United States, more than 100,000 bus industry members — both commercial and school — are either trained or committed to training with Busing on the Lookout (BOTL) materials.
Two-thirds of these, or over 70,000, are school bus drivers being trained through their state or school district. To date, the states of Iowa, Kansas, Illinois and Tennessee will have BOTL-trained all school bus drivers in their state by the end of the 2019/2020 school year. Other state Departments of Education are taking steps in this direction, while many more are sharing information about BOTL with school districts and student transportation directors across the state who can implement the training on their own.
BOTL has also made significant progress in reaching public transit agencies throughout the country. Oregon is implementing plans to get all transit drivers in their state BOTL-trained by the end of the summer, while the Connecticut transit system (CT Transit) has begun using BOTL with their employees, and First Transit is rolling out the training to its 15,000 employees in 38 states and Canada.
TAT is looking for the person to honor as the winner of the 2019 Harriet Tubman Award presented by Protective Insurance. Do you know someone in trucking or busing whose direct actions have helped save or improve the lives of those enslaved or have prevented human trafficking from taking place? Please contact TAT immediately with the name and pertinent information. The award presentation is in May.
To be considered for the award, the nominee — and/or additional people involved in the situation that resulted in making a call to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) or