• MDOT Enforcement Officers Continue Human Trafficking Training

    In continuing the fight against the increasing issue that is human trafficking, Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) Enforcement Officers statewide recently participated in a human trafficking training led by Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) officials.

    Separate trainings were held in each of MDOT’s six districts to further teach officers how to identify and police potential human trafficking on state highways and at weigh stations. Officers were trained on ways to approach potential victims, what type of questions to ask them and what type of indicators to look for. Others items such as human trafficking terminology and recent case studies were also covered at each training.

    “As this issue continues to grow across the nation, it’s imperative that MDOT partners with organizations such as TAT to stay updated with the latest information possible to help uncover victims in Mississippi,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “These trainings offered a unique perspective that our officers really responded to and will greatly benefit from as we continue this fight against human trafficking.”

    In 2016 alone, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) reported 40 cases of some form of human trafficking in Mississippi. Although many victims are not in one place long enough to form social connections, they are often transported throughout the country in commercial motor vehicles. Since 2007, the NHTRC has reported over 150 cases of some form of human trafficking in Mississippi.

    “Behind drug dealing, human trafficking is the fastest growing and most profitable criminal enterprise right now,” said Chief Willie Huff, MDOT Office of Enforcement director. “MDOT recognizes that members of the trucking industry are an invaluable asset in the fight against human trafficking and we want to make sure all of our officers know what to look for when encountering potential human trafficking situations.”

    MDOT is one of many agencies across the state and country that is recognizing January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Since 2015, in coordination with Gov. Phil Bryant’s Human Trafficking Task Force, all MDOT Enforcement Officers have been trained on how to identify and police human trafficking.

    “Training the MDOT Enforcement Officers was one of the most productive and enjoyable experiences I’ve had with TAT,” said TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier. “The officers were eager to learn the information and apply it to their work. We’re excited about our deepened relationship with Mississippi law enforcement and stand side by side with MDOT in their commitment to combat this heinous crime.”

    MDOT Officers were also given a unique perspective inside the ugly world of human trafficking. Beth Jacobs, a TAT field trainer and survivor leader, spoke about her personal experiences in human trafficking after being a victim for six years.

    “The response to Ms. Jacobs’ story was incredible and the questions the officers asked enabled us to dig deeper into some of the issues that impact a victim’s fear of asking for help,” Lanier said.

    Human trafficking affects individuals across the world and is commonly regarded as one of the most pressing human rights issues today. Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his/her will.

    To report information about a potential trafficking situation, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888. Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking. Anonymous tips can also be submitted online at www.humantraffickinghotline.org or by emailing help@humantraffickinghotline.org. Participate in the discussion on social media by using the hashtag #endtrafficking.

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