The newsletter stories are archived beginning with the most recent. Please scroll down to find the stories from past newsletters.
TAT News from the November 2017 Newsletter
Truckers Against Trafficking receives highest image award from the American Trucking Associations
Nominated by the presidents of 22 state trucking associations, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) was named one of the 2017 recipients of the Mike Russell Trucking Image Award by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) on Monday, Oct. 23 at the ATA's Management Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Florida.
Other award recipients included the Arkansas Trucking Association, Load One and Herschel Evans, Holland Inc.
Tony Bradley, president of the Arizona Trucking Association and the person who prepared the nomination for TAT, received the award for TAT from Elisabeth Barna, ATA's chief operating officer and executive vice president of industry affairs.
"Since its inception, Truckers Against Trafficking has become a catalyst for change and has helped promote the trucking industry, training professional truck drivers and members of the trucking industry to be Everyday Heroes," wrote Bradley in the nomination. "They are making a difference and improving the image of the trucking industry. While doing research for this nomination, it occurs to me that several past recipients of the Mike Russell award received their award, in part, for their partnership with TAT."
The Mike Russell Trucking Image Award celebrates companies, organizations and individuals who creatively generate positive awareness of the trucking industry. Without the support of these leaders, the benefits of an improved image of the trucking industry would not be possible. Submissions are evaluated by an expert impartial panel of judges based on:
- Creativity - What innovative or novel ways has the nominee promoted the image of trucking over the last year?
- Frequency and Reach/Impact - Efforts should reach a significant and relevant audience.
- Execution - All communications in the campaign should reflect the highest standards of quality and professionalism.
Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, said, "From the beginning, we asked the trucking industry to become part of the solution for the crime of human trafficking; and this is no easy thing. It requires they recognize their own intersections with victims, buyers and traffickers and turn those encounters into opportunities to report this crime. They have done just that. Truckers, industry executives, manufacturers, truck stop operators, CDL instructors and so many more have stepped up in immeasurable ways, and, as a result, lives are being changed. No one does this work for the recognition, and yet TAT is incredibly honored to receive the Mike Russell Image Award, because it was industry members, our fellow changemakers, who nominated us for it. It is our humble privilege to serve alongside them each and every day in combating this crime, and for this award, and for all of their efforts on a continual basis on behalf of victims everywhere, we thank you."
Freedom Drivers Project provides education, awareness on tour of East Coast Volvo facilities
On a first-of-its-kind tour of Volvo facilities across four states, Oct. 16-20, the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) drew hundreds of Volvo employees through its doors, while Helen Van Dam, FDP director, trained additional employees through brown bag/lunch and learn meetings.
When asked why it makes sense for Volvo, as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), to take part in fighting human trafficking, Kurt Hollinger, vice president of sales, said, "You look at what we really specialize in on the Volvo product line. We really excel on the truckload products -- the sleepers - for the over-the-road guys that are spending a lot of time out on the road and at truck stops. So, it just seems like a natural fit with one of our largest customer bases ... and I think it's important for us to work with and educate them on what can be done out there to combat this issue."
The FDP began the tour in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Volvo Trucks North America Headquarters. At the lunch and learn, TAT, the North Carolina Highway Patrol, and Volvo shared about joint efforts to combat human trafficking.
Janie Coley, corporate communications specialist, commented, "As the mother of three daughters (16, 12 and 4), I couldn't help but imagine how frightening it would be if one of my girls became a victim of trafficking. With more than 100,000 to 300,000 children at risk, this issue is widespread. With the training today, I now know what to look for if I suspect human trafficking. I feel better knowing I can contact 1-888-3737-888(US) for help."
While Sheri Masters, corporate communications manager said, "So many people who came to this event took the message to heart and began to look for ways they could personally be a part of the solution for human trafficking. It was inspiring to see this commitment and willingness to engage."
From North Carolina, the FDP traveled to the New River Valley Assembly Plant in Dublin, Virginia, to Volvo Powertrain in Hagerstown, Maryland and then to Volvo Construction Equipment in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. At the New River plant, local law enforcement and state police, impressed with what they were learning, requested additional trainings for their departments. To read a news article about the tour, click here.
"I appreciate all the people who not only had the courage to hear these hard stories of human trafficking, but also the foresight to know that if they take action, they could impact someone's life," said Van Dam. "It was wonderful to hear how many people wanted to take this information back to their communities, their families' workplaces and the kids in their lives. Thank you, Volvo Trucks United States, for this tour and all that will come from it."
Editor's note: TAT thanks Susan Alt, Kurt Hollinger, Kristyn Angell, Dawn Fenton, Robin Crawford, Janie Coley, Marcus Thompson, Belinda Vinson, Meg Dameron and Kaylee Beattie for their work to make the tour possible. Thank you to the employees at the Hagerstown location who, led by Belinda Vinson, raised about $2500 for TAT before the tour began. And thank you to Walmart for hauling the FDP to Greensboro and Volvo for hauling it the rest of the week.
TAT announces new corporate sponsor levels
The work of fighting human trafficking takes resolve, strategy, dedicated people, resources and money to continually expand the reach of the efforts as well as provide ongoing funding to the work already underway. New research completed by the International Labour Organization and its partners (see article this newsletter) reveals the scale of the crime continues to grow and there is no room for relaxed efforts, either abroad or nationally.
To that end, while TAT gratefully acknowledges we couldn't have accomplished what we already have without the work and funding of our present partners and sponsors, for the work to continue and reach more broadly into the trucking industry, as well as expand into other critical sectors of transportation, such as busing, and throughout North America, which includes Mexico and Canada, we need more dedicated sponsors, and increased sponsorship funding. To that end, we have created new levels of corporate sponsorships and ask that you please examine them and thoughtfully consider where you, your company or your organization could join us in the work to fight this crime that destroys so many lives:
Freedom Driver -- $100,000 and over
All of the Diamond benefits, plus extensive TAT promotion across multiple platforms (website, newsletter, social media, radio) announcing you as a Freedom Driver and overall strategic partner; the development of an internal email campaign for your employees showing the impact of your company investment; and a standing banner displaying your logo at all Freedom Drivers Project events.
Diamond -- $50,000 and over
All of the Platinum benefits, plus co-branding our informational brochure with your logo, and a Freedom Drivers Project media event at a location of your choice.
Platinum -- $25,000 and over
All of the Gold benefits, plus your logo and a short description of your participation with TAT displayed as one of the scrolling slides on a monitor inside the trailer for one year; and your company promoted through media outlets when the press is in attendance at speaking events.
Gold -- $10,000 and over
All of the Silver benefits, plus your company publicly thanked at speaking events as a strategic partner and your logo included in our monthly newsletter.
Silver -- $5,000 and over
All of the Bronze benefits, plus your logo displayed on the Freedom Drivers Project for one year and your logo included in our annual report.
Bronze -- $2,500 and over
All of the Copper benefits, plus social media promotion.
Copper -- $1,000 and over
Your logo hyperlinked on the sidebar of our site, plus your logo, link, and 100-word description on our Sponsor page.
*All sponsorships and the according benefits are considered active for one year.
TAT has over 30,000 followers on Twitter, over 164,000 Likes on Facebook, and a growing Pinterest and Instagram presence. We participate in speaking events across the country nearly every week, and our media engagement has included pieces on CNN, BBC, NPR, Fox News, Forbes, The Washington Times, Huffington Post, MSNBC, as well as many local media outlets across the nation. We have also been featured in nearly every major trucking publication in the United States.
New research reveals human trafficking numbers increasing worldwide
NEW YORK (ILO News) - New research developed jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM),has revealed the true scale of modern slavery around the world. The data, released during the United Nations General Assembly, shows that more than 40 million people around the world were victims of modern slavery in 2016. The ILO have also released a companion estimate of child labor, which confirms that about 152 million children, aged between 5 and 17, were subject to child labor.
The new estimates also show that women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery, accounting for almost 29 million, or 71 per cent of the overall total. Women represent 99 per cent of the victims of forced labor in the commercial sex industry and 84 per cent of forced marriages.
The research reveals that among the 40 million victims of modern slavery, about 25 million were in forced labor, and 15 million were in forced marriage.
Child labor remains concentrated primarily in agriculture (70.9 per cent). Almost one in five child laborers work in the services sector (17.1 per cent) while 11.9 per cent of child laborers work in industry.
An estimated 25 million people were in forced labor at any moment in time in 2016. Out of them, 16 million people were in forced labor exploitation in the private sector such as domestic work, construction, agriculture. About 5 million persons were in forced sexual exploitation, and just over four million persons (or 16 per cent of the total) were in forced labor imposed by their state authorities.
An estimated 15.4 million people were living in a forced marriage at any moment in time in 2016. Of this total, 6.5 million cases had occurred in the past five years (2012-2016) and the remainder had taken place prior to this period but continued into it. More than one third of all victims of forced marriage were children at the time of the marriage, and almost all child victims were girls.
152 million children - 64 million girls and 88 million boys - are subject to child labor and account for almost one in 10 children around the world. The highest number of children aged 5 to 17 engaged in child labor were to be found in Africa (72.1 million), followed by Asia and the Pacific (62 million), the Americas (10.7 million), Europe and Central Asia (5.5 million) and the Arab States (1.2 million). Approximately one third of children aged 5 to 14 engaged in child labor are outside the education system. 38 per cent of children in hazardous work aged 5 to 14 and almost two-thirds of those aged 15-17 work more than 43 hours per week.
"These numbers show us the scope of the problem and the urgency with which we need to work," declared Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. "Every one of us has a critical role to play in fighting this crime and ensuring that all people have the opportunity to live in freedom and safety."
TAT News from the October 2017 Newsletter
Rasmussen, Blake join TAT Board of Directors
The Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) Board of Directors voted to accept Karen Rasmussen and Don Blake as new members at their August meeting, held at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Texas.
Rasmussen is the president and chief executive officer of HELP Inc., the provider of PrePass and other commercial vehicle safety services. PrePass allows trucks from fleets with good safety records to bypass truck scales and inspection facilities in 33 states, saving them time and fuel, and reducing operating costs. PrePass also helps enforcementagencies more efficiently focus their safety efforts.
From 2001 through late 2012, Rasmussen served as the president and CEO of the Arizona Trucking Association (AzTA) and as executive director of the Arizona Transportation Education Foundation (ATEF), a 501(c)(3) incorporated through her efforts and funded through safety grants and industry donations. Under her leadership, AzTA received the Summa Cum Laude award in 2009 for best safety program, and ATEF conceived and produced the well-known "Teens & Trucks" novice driver training video and curriculum through a grant from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Association. Teens & Trucks is still widely used throughout the United States and Canada to teach teens how to drive safely around large trucks.
Prior to 2001, Rasmussen served as director of Government Relations for Ryder System, Inc., the Fortune 500 truck leasing and logistics company. Before joining Ryder, she spent 13 years with the California Trucking Association (CTA)heading CTA's work in areas ranging from safety, environment, commun-ications, and government relations, and serving as vice president from 1994-1997.
Rasmussen's experience also includes tenure at the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma Governor's Office of Highway Safety and the Montana state legislature. She currently serves on Arizona's Freight Plan Advisory Committee, on American Trucking Associations' Safety Policy and Communications & Image committees and as a member of the ATRI Research Advisory Committee (RAC). Rasmussen has also been named co-chair of a new task force coordinating the 2017 National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.
Throughout her career, Rasmussen has received numerous awards, recognitions and honors. Most recent achievements include winning the Mike Russell Trucking Industry Image Award from American Trucking Associations in late 2016. In May 2016, she was named by Fleet Owner Magazine as one of the Dozen Outstanding Women in Trucking.
"Since I first became aware of TAT through Chief Dave Lorenzen (HELP's immediate past chair), I've developed an avid interest in and support for TAT's efforts to spread the word about human trafficking and train truck drivers what to look for and how to report it," Rasmussen explained. "Trafficking is finally getting the attention it deserves, and TAT is on the forefront of doing something about it. I'm proud to be part of this forward-thinking and dedicated organization."
Don Blake is the new truck sales manager at Inland Kenworth's flagship store in Tolleson, Arizona and has served in the trucking industry for over 21 years. He is an active member of the Arizona Rock Product Association and the Arizona Trucking Association and was elected to the American Trucking Associations' board in 2010, serving four years as chairman of their Leadership Conference.
Blake holds a bachelor of science in Industrial Business from Humboldt State University and is graduate of NADA Dealer Academy Program. He holds two patents and loves to invent and tinker.
After listening to a TAT presentation in 2016, Blake decided to do something that had never been done before: build a special themed truck and auction it off as a fundraiser for TAT. With the support of Inland Kenworth, including $12,000 toward the project, and Kenworth Truck Co., Blake began talking to corporate sponsors, and through his leadership, raised $89,000 in direct sponsorships and $35,000 in in-kind sponsorships to build the Everyday Heroes truck, a customized 2018 Kenworth T680. The truck was auctioned off in June of this year, netting a donation for TAT of $89,000, the largest one-time gift in the organization's history.
"The 'Everyday Heroes' truck is making a lasting impact," Blake said, "much more so than we could have ever imagined. It's gratifying to pull so many people together for a cause and to fight something so awful as human trafficking. Many people have worked to make this possible and it's just unreal."
When Inland Kenworth was named the 2017 Successful Dealer of the Year during the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas in August, Blake and the Everyday Heroes truck were singled out as having played a major role in the final decision-making by those selecting the award winner.
"The folks at TAT are awesome," Blake enthused. "They make you feel good just being around them. It's an honor to be part of this 'force of good.' I look forward to driving Kendis crazy with wild ideas."
With Hawaii, all 50 state trucking associations now aware of human trafficking through TAT
When Helen Van Dam, Freedom Drivers Project director for Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), spoke at the Hawaii Transportation Association annual conference in September, TAT reached a milestone of having presented to all 50 state trucking associations on human trafficking and the role trucking can play in the fight against it.
While statistics show that human trafficking takes place in all 50 states, the National Human Trafficking Hotline shows that since the hotline began in 2007, there have been 469 calls from Hawaii to report suspected human trafficking. These calls have resulted in 166 cases, impacting 475 victims.
"We thank the Hawaii Transportation Association for inviting us to speak at their annual conference this year in beautiful Waikiki," said Van Dam. "We truly value our partnerships with the state trucking associations. They are the trucking leaders in every state, and we couldn't do our work without them. Unique to this presentation in Hawaii was the opportunity we had to train the busing industry at the conference, right alongside trucking. We look forward to working with many transportation companies in Hawaii to combat trafficking in the crossroads of the Pacific."
Sixty-five people listened to Van Dam's presentation, including representatives from two tour bus companies.
TAT engages business leaders in the fight to end human trafficking through United Way
Laura Cyrus, operations director for Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) took part in a panel discussion at the Business Leaders Forum to Combat Human Trafficking, hosted by United Way Worldwide in Alexandria, Virginia in early September. As a part of the Employee Training and Engagement session, she, along with fellow panel members, discussed ways in which each organization was working to foster employee engagement and activation on the issue of human trafficking. The forum was well attended by other anti-trafficking NGOs, supply chain consultants and experts and a variety of business leaders. Shamere McKenzie, a survivor-leader and the CEO of the Sun Gate Foundation, also spoke, offering a message of hope that was unifying and inspiring to all.
"It was an excellent two-day meeting that brought together stakeholders from multiple disciplines to engage in meaningful dialogue and brainstorming about ways we can all continue to work together to combat this heinous crime," commented Cyrus.
Prize sponsors join TAT in a salute to truckers
Thanks to the generous donations from sponsors, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) was able to give away almost $835 in gift cards and merchandise through Facebook and Twitter to truckers during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, Sept. 10-16.
Blue Tiger, Stay Loaded, Hammerlane, AME International and TA Petro all donated items, including headsets, mini speakers, a nut buddy lug loosening tool, gift cards and t-shirts, in addition to the hats TAT donated, as prizes in the trucker appreciation contests TAT held.
Winners, who all needed to be CDL holders, included drivers Trish Snyder, James Morton, Renee Bragg, Cris Cannon, Justin Koch, Douglas Connolly, David Patterson, Luke Whitecotton, Samuel Michael Robinson, Martin Ortiz, Taylor Barker and Kevin Kitts.
"Without truckers, our entire economy and society would come to an immediate halt," said Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director. "They are irreplaceable; their work is long, hard and never ending. They provide a service to this country and to each of us that we simply must acknowledge and celebrate. And, on top of that, they are joining in the fight against human trafficking in an amazing show of force that is producing results. We are proud to salute them!"
TAT News from the September 2017 Newsletter
Molly Griffiths and Holly Hudelson join the TAT team
Replacing Laura Cyrus, now TAT operations director, as TAT administrative specialist, Molly Griffiths first became passionate about the issue of human trafficking during college where she obtained a degree in psychology. Following graduation, while working at a high school in Los Angeles, Griffiths began to see the many challenges vulnerable youth face and wanted to help prevent some of these issues. To do so, she pursued a master's degree in criminology at Regis University and will be completing that in December of this year.
"I am so excited to join the TAT team in the fight against human trafficking," she said. "In my short time here, I have already seen just how influential the trucking industry can be and how many people dedicate their time to try to stop this crime. I look forward to continuing to work with drivers and companies and to build this partnership even further."
Coming onboard to respond to the influx of calls, emails and needs of truckers and companies in states, like Arkansas, which have made TAT training mandatory for CDL qualification or renewal, Holly Hudelson is TAT's new certification compliance coordinator. She joined the anti-trafficking movement in 2011 upon learning that the average age a child is first trafficked for sex is 14-15 years old in the United States. She knew she had to do something, so she started volunteering, soon realizing that there was a missing piece to her mission. In 2012, Hudelson and a couple of friends decided to start the non-profit organization Unlock Freedom, focusing specifically on education and awareness in the community and schools. A supporter of Truckers Against Trafficking, she is excited to join the team.
"I've only been working with TAT for a couple of weeks, but I'm seeing that the trucking industry is even more massive than I had realized. Truckers truly can make a difference in the fight against trafficking," she stated.
Oil and gas industry begins participation in TAT coalition builds
With a $26,000 grant, ConocoPhillips has begun helping, in part, with TAT coalition builds in locations where they drill to bring the issue of human trafficking to the forefront of the oil and gas industry. While CAP grant money pays for the majority of coalition build costs, the ConocoPhillips grant money covers the costs for the Freedom Drivers Project to and from the events as well as lunch for all participants.
The first build, co-hosted by TAT and the office of U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, took place in Bismarck, North Dakota on Aug. 14. The next one is planned for Nov. 29 in Kennedy, TX, near the Eagle Ford Shale.
"The coalition build in Bismarck was a high-level discussion around human trafficking with representatives from the oil and gas industry, the truck stop industry, the trucking industry and law enforcement from the local, state and federal levels," Esther Goetsch, TAT coalition build specialist, said. "It was exciting to see each of these sectors come to the discussion with a desire to make a difference in their community, a willingness to learn how they can play a part and a compassion to join in the hope of recovering more victims."
In surveys following the event, the 42 attendees made comments including kudos for Survivor-Leader Beth Jacobs for "being brave and sharing," for all speakers that they were well-prepared and that the build was beneficial to them.
Freedom Drivers Project garners lots of attention at the Iowa State Fair
From the butter cow, the blue-ribbon quilts, the horse shows, and the hypnotist, there was a lot to see at the Iowa State Fair, and thanks to the Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement division of Iowa DOT, the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) joined the festivities on opening day.
"We were thrilled to have over 1600 attendees tour the Freedom Drivers Project," enthused Helen Van Dam, FDP director, "including members of the trucking industry excited to take our materials back to their companies and community members excited to take this information back to their neighborhoods, schools, and families. We couldn't have hoped for a better first year at the Iowa State Fair. Thank you to TanTara Transportation Corp and ConocoPhillips for helping the Freedom Drivers Project get to and from the fair. "
TAT again provides training for the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program
As it has in the past few years, TAT once again provided a "Combating Trafficking in Persons" training on Aug. 18 about working with the trucking industry to fight human trafficking to seven foreign leaders through the U.S. State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program. The guests for this training were from Bahrain, Chile, Finland, Ghana, Libya, Lithuania and Vietnam. TAT has participated in this program for several years in the hopes that it will help combat human trafficking and that other countries may consider adopting its model in full or part to work with the trucking industry in those lands.
New exhibits in Freedom Drivers Project intrigue GATS attendees
In its eighth year as an exhibitor at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Aug. 24-26, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) continued to impact a large number of attendees with information about human trafficking in America and with its Freedom Drivers Project (FDP). More than 1,500 drivers, spouses, manufacturers, instructors, students, mechanics and more toured the FDP, were affected by its new exhibits of survivor artifacts and learned how they could save a life with a simple phone call.
"We'd like to thank not only those who walked through the FDP but then made a commitment to take this information back to their company, family, and community," said Helen Van Dam, FDP director. "We're grateful for the opportunity to work with the men and women on the front lines so they can recognize and report trafficking. Thank you also to Randall Riley for discounting our booth, to Quality Carriers and UPS Freight for hauling the Freedom Drivers Project and to Bridgestone Commercial Solutions for sending volunteers to help us run our booth."
TAT News from the August 2017 Newsletter
TAT responds to questions about state laws governing CDL requirements
Given all of the legislative movement as of late, we want to make a statement about how TAT is operating. First and foremost, we think we can all agree that human trafficking should be fought. The question really is ... how best do we do that? In trying to answer that question, TAT, while certainly learning as we go, is working with its trucking industry partners. From the beginning, we have made our materials free-of-charge and asked the industry to voluntarily adopt the training ... and we are still doing that. At the same time, the broader anti-trafficking movement has been hard at work getting every sector of our society ... including legislators at the local, state and national levels ... involved in combating the evils of human trafficking, and it is not surprising that we are seeing a host of new laws being offered for consideration.
At the state level, we never make a move without the support of our trucking partners in that particular state. And at times, TAT is only finding out about these bills via a media story (or other third party) and then contacting the state in order to try and weigh in on the matter. We fully recognize the concerns around the Arkansas law that recently passed requiring our training, and we have been working non-stop to co-brand training certificates for all AR-based companies who had already adopted the training (or recently began) in order to expedite the process for all concerned. We will do the same in Kansas, where a similar law has already been put in place. Moving forward, we will be asking states who are pushing for across-the-board mandates to consider training implementation in CDL schools only, where drivers already find themselves in a classroom setting. Please note that it's not just truck drivers being required to train ... its hotel employees, hair dressers, ER workers, and the list continues. When we do gain a seat at the table we are working to make these laws as effective as possible, and as palatable to the industry as can be.
We are fully aware that trucking is one of the most over-regulated industries, and that you cannot legislate the mind and heart. We also recognize that both sides of the aisle are coming together around this issue and therefore it is imperative that we try and work with them to form the legislation being proposed so that it does take into consideration the needs and concerns of the industry.
To date, the only federal bill we have given our support to is Klobuchar's bill (S. 1536) ... which would designate a human trafficking prevention coordinator at the US DOT, increase outreach, education and reporting efforts at the FMCSA, and provide CDL schools who are implementing anti-trafficking education additional financial assistance. This bill only incentivizes training at the federal level, it does not mandate it.
Ultimately, we want to see those who are enslaved set free ... and we want to work with industry to accomplish this goal. We are asking for your continued support in this effort, and want you to know that your concerns are being heard and acted upon.
Survivor-Leader Tajuan McCarty joins Survivor-Leader Beth Jacobs as TAT field trainers
Truckers Against Trafficking now has two part-time field trainers to present at coalition builds and to do law enforcement and additional specialized trainings as needed with Survivor-Leader Tajuan McCarty joining Survivor-Leader Beth Jacobs in the role of field trainer. Jacobs will cover the northern half of the United States, while McCarty covers all needed presentations in the southern half.
McCarty is uniquely qualified to be a forerunner in the fight against trafficking, as she understands victims' situations. At 15, she was sexually exploited by her "boyfriend-turned-pimp." While trafficked all over the United States, Canada and Mexico, she was trafficked to Birmingham so many times, it became her home. Her many experiences make her a passionate advocate for victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
"Not too long after entering the fight against trafficking, I found TAT or they found me," said McCarty. "It amazed me how they reached out to survivors while developing each of the items they wanted to use. TAT honors how we feel and what we say. I am not sure there is any other group that does this to the extent they do. Now I am one of them!!! God is so amazing how He opens doors and brings people together. Who would have thought 30-plus years after walking onto the first truck stop lot when I was being trafficked, He would bring me to this!"
McCarty is the founder of The WellHouse, a nonprofit, faith-based and Christ-centered agency dedicated to rescuing women from sexual exploitation/human trafficking. She has experience in social work, community outreach, and as a consultant on women's issues. Her professional experience includes leadership positions, such as a social worker for the Alabama Department of Human Resources, in which she has assisted women ex-offenders re-enter society and helped implement Alabama's first program devoted to helping chronically homeless, severely mentally ill women. She holds master degrees in public health and public administration, as well as a bachelor of science in social work from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
McCarty was recognized as one of the Top 20 Women Who Make a Difference in Birmingham, accepted the FBI director's Community Leadership Award on behalf of The WellHouse, was recognized in 2015 as part of The A-List by B-Metro Magazine and Faces of Birmingham with Style BluePrint Magazine, has been featured as An Everyday Hero in Good Housekeeping magazine in 2015 and was awarded Vulcan Spear Hero in 2016.
She continues to train law enforcement, social workers, and many other professionals to be aware of the signs of trafficking, understand the mindset of victims and how to relate without causing further harm.
“It is imperative that law enforcement and industry approach the crime of human trafficking with a victim-centered approach,” commented TAT Executive Director Kendis Paris. “With that in mind, we are thrilled to bring Tajuan McCarty on staff to join Beth Jacobs as a part-time field trainer in order to train critical stakeholders across the nation. She has already made an incredible impact on all of the audiences we have put her in front of, and TAT is grateful for the skillset, passion and dedication both of these women bring to this issue and our mission.”
TAT testifies before Congressional hearing committee
Esther Goetsch, TAT coalition build specialist, met up with Nicole Clifton, vice president of corporate public affairs, UPS, at the hearing.
Esther Goetsch, TAT coalition build specialist, represented Truckers Against Trafficking at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on July 12 in Washington D.C. The hearing was titled Force Multipliers: How Transportation and Supply Chain Stakeholders are Combatting Human Trafficking. The link to the full hearing is here.
Goetsch was a panel member, along with Polaris Project, Issara Institute and Florida Abolitionist and responded to various questions from Senators regarding human trafficking. The two-hour hearing educated lawmakers about the crime of human trafficking and how various industries are creatively working to combat it. Goetsch provided testimony as to ways the American trucking industry has responded to the realities of human trafficking and is actively serving as a model for other industries in combatting it.
"I was encouraged to see so many Senators comment positively on TAT's work and the trucking industry's role in taking this issue on," Goetsch said. "The committee as a whole seemed engaged in this topic and eager to learn how they can contribute to its defeat."
TAT enjoys great crowd at Iowa 80 Jamboree
Not only did 1660 people walk through the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) at this year's Iowa 80 Jamboree, but country music star and truck driver Tony Justice raised $500 for Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) by raffling off a Wilson acoustic guitar signed by himself and George Strait. Additionally, TAT raised another $264 through merchandise sales and donations.
"We had a fantastic time hanging out with the folks that came through the FDP," said Helen Van Dam. "Thank you to the Iowa 80 group and the Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement Officers for helping to host us. Thank you to Global Specialized Services and JBS Carriers for hauling the Freedom Drivers Project and making its presence at the Jamboree possible. And a big thanks to Tony Justice for raffling off the guitar to benefit us! We wish him the greatest success on his new album Stars, Stripes and White Lines! Thanks to Tony for being an amazing TAT!"
TAT News from the July 2017 Newsletter
Everyday Heroes tractor auction nets record donation for TAT
On June 20, Mike Jimenez, owner of Phoenix-based J&L Transportation provided the winning bid of $140,000 for the Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 tractor auctioned off by Ritchie Bros. Auction as a fundraiser for Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) by Inland Kenworth. As a result, TAT will receive an $89,000 donation, the largest one-time gift in the organization’s history.
“We are absolutely thrilled and overwhelmed by the generosity of the industry, and extremely grateful to Mike Jimenez and J&L Transportation for adding the Everyday Heroes Truck to its fleet,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director.
“This culminated an 8-month project that had a tremendous finish,” said Don Blake, Inland Kenworth’s new truck sales manager in the Phoenix area, who spearheaded the program. “Our sponsors came together to donate and discount their pricing in order for us to build the Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680. I was on pins and needles as the auction and bidding took place and was so happy that the truck was going to a local company that demonstrated its commitment to such a worthy cause.”
Jimenez, who was in South Africa at the time of the auction, produced the winning bid by proxy. “Though I have not encountered human trafficking, it does exist in our world,” he said. “It’s been my experience that when our industry gets behind a cause, it is a worthwhile cause. When Don expressed his interest, along with Inland Kenworth and all the other supporters and sponsors intent on doing this project, I knew J&L should be a part of the answer to end such heartbreaking events. I’m confident that TAT will use the proceeds to continue the education efforts and training necessary to end human trafficking in the future. Without their efforts, I would still be blind to this epidemic in our society.”
The Kenworth T680, fully loaded with a 76-inch sleeper, 485-hp PACCAR MX-13 engine, and Eaton® Fuller Advantage™ 10-speed automated transmission, joins 35 other trucks in the J&L Transporation fleet. The truck will be placed in J&L’s dedicated fleet and utilized in Arizona, California and Nevada.
“When people hear about the horrific realities of human trafficking, they often make promises to get involved, but not everyone follows through,” Paris stated. “That is not true of Don Blake, George Cravens (with Utility Trailers), and all of the amazing sponsors of the Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680. This money will enable us to continue to expand our work within the trucking industry, and also allow us to further our partnerships with law enforcement, additional modes of transportation, and multiple countries, in the fight against human trafficking. We are extremely grateful to Ritchie Bros. for auctioning off the truck, the amazing sponsors for helping to build it from the ground up, the trucking media for raising awareness about the work of TAT through the entire process of this one-of-a-kind auction, and to Inland Kenworth’s Don Blake who led the charge to the very end.”
According to Mike Dozier, Kenworth general manager and PACCAR vice president, Blake’s passion for the project was contagious. “Don and Inland Kenworth did a wonderful and creative program to support TAT,” Dozier said. “It shows how an idea can germinate and how the industry can pull together to support the fight against human trafficking. As an organization, we couldn’t be prouder to provide assistance, and to call Don a model representative of Inland Kenworth and our dealer network.”
Paris explained that human trafficking is an industry estimated to be worth $32 billion in the United States alone, and $150 billion globally. To further its education, TAT has the Freedom Driver’s Project – a mobile exhibit, which educates members of the trucking industry. The project was at Inland Kenworth in Phoenix on June 19, and at Utility Trailers next door, on June 20. Nearly 200 people were trained.
Providing support for the Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 were Kenworth Truck Company and Ritchie Bros. at the Platinum Level; Inland Kenworth, Utility Trailer Sales Company of Arizona and FlowBelow Wheel Covers at the Gold Level; PACCAR Engine, PACCAR Parts, Horton, Jot Fifth Wheel, Meritor, Eaton Corporation and Bendix at the Silver Level; and Delco, ExGuard Grille Guards, Davco, National Seats, East Penn Batteries, Giti Tires and Alcoa at the Bronze Level.
TAT invited to testify before Congress
Kendis Paris, executive director of Truckers Against Trafficking, has been invited to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in Washington, D.C. on July 12.
"Testifying before Congress regarding the critical impact the US trucking industry has made in combating domestic sex trafficking is a high honor indeed,” said Paris. “From professional drivers to truck stop employees to safety directors and CEOs of companies ... TAT has born first-hand witness of what can be done when good men and women raise up and use their influence and resources to fight evil."
Chaired by Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has jurisdiction over all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating to a long list of areas, including interstate commerce, highway safety, the regulation of interstate common carriers, including railroads, buses, trucks, vessels, pipelines and civil aviation, as well as transportation and transportation and commerce aspects of Outer Continental Shelf lands.
AAMVA audience important component to advancing Iowa MVE use
TAT Operations Director Laura Cyrus recently co-presented on CMV Interdiction: Drug and Human Trafficking at the Region ll conference of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The session touched on ways law enforcement, federal partners, state DMV/DOT offices and trucking can all work together to help in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking.
Co-presenters for the session included Captain Brian Baxter, Criminal Investigation Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety; Sergeant Darren Reid, Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement, Iowa Department of Transportation; and David R. Mullins, Special Agent, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
Capt. Baxter, Sgt. Reid and Agent Mullins all shared interdiction case studies and updated the audience on what they, as law enforcement officers, are seeing the field. Cyrus familiarized folks with TAT’s efforts to engage the trucking and law enforcement communities in a more unified work effort. She also requested that audience members representing various sectors within state government take the TAT Iowa MVE model back to their offices and start or continue discussions around how their states can increase levels of engagement with TAT.
“It was fantastic to be able to round out the session as the closing speaker,” said Cyrus. “Each of the gentlemen before me spoke about TAT and some of their work with us, prior to me even speaking. I was truly grateful that they each took the time to reference our organization by name and encouraged everyone in the room to get involved with our program. I’m hopeful that further connections will be made within each state represented and that our Iowa MVE model will continue to be replicated in deeper, more engaging ways across the nation. I was able to pass out a number of law enforcement training DVDs, regular DVDs and wallet cards, and several attendees made a specific point to approach our table afterward and express their sincere thanks for our work and the excitement they have around the increasing efforts across the country to incorporate TAT training at the CDL school level.”
Wyoming coalition build primes pump for additional law enforcement training
Truckers Against Trafficking and the Freedom Drivers Project held a coalition build in Casper, Wyoming at the end of June for 18 representatives of the truck stop/travel plaza industry, five trucking members and 30 law enforcement members from local, state and federal agencies. The build was co-hosted by the Wyoming Trucking Association, Homeland Security Investigations, the Wyoming Office of the Attorney General and TAT.
During the half-day training, attendees learned about Wyoming laws around human trafficking, heard actual local case studies of trafficking, as well as stings that have occurred in the state, dispelling the myth that “it doesn’t happen here.” TAT Field Trainer Beth Jacobs told her story as a trafficking victim and survivor leader, providing concrete training to law enforcement about having a victim-centered approach. There was a good discussion at the end of the day about how to get more of the industry in Wyoming actively involved in combatting human trafficking.
“We’re grateful to have such great partners in Wyoming,” shared Esther Goetsch, TAT coalition build specialist, “and are hopeful this meeting will produce more calls into law enforcement, with more victims recovered and more perpetrators arrested.”
Goetsch commented that one officer said he was just going to stop in but was surprised at how good the training and information was and decided to stay the whole day. “This same officer is hoping to have TAT come back and train all of his officers in person,” she said.
Wyoming Highway Patrol, along with additional local law enforcement agencies who attended the meeting, are hoping to collaborate together to have TAT back out to train as many law enforcement in the state as possible. This will include training all officers at 14 ports of entry and weigh stations. They will also be stocking all weigh stations and ports of entry with TAT materials.
TAT News from the May 2017 Newsletter
Law enforcement training critical component of TAT work
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) continues to maintain a strong relationship with law enforcement across the country. It recently released its law enforcement training video, which is available, free-of-charge, to law enforcement, both on our website and in hard copy, obtained by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.
On May 23-24, Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, will speak to law enforcement from around the nation, including police, DEA, FBI, HIS and sheriffs, at a national interdiction conference (HIDTA) in Kansas City, MO. There, she will show the trailer for the law enforcement training video, as well as have a table with hard copies of the video available. On May 31, Lanier and Beth Jacobs, survivor leader and TAT field trainer, will join D/Sgt. Ed Price of the Southeast Michigan Crimes Against Children Task Force in Lansing, Michigan to provide a day-long training on human trafficking for the Michigan State Police. TAT will provide the video as a resource to the agencies in attendance.
Sign up NOW to bid at auction for Everyday Heroes truck
It’s now time to put your name on the bidding list for the auction of the fully customized 2018 Kenworth T680 Everyday Heroes truck that will be auctioned off June 20. In this unique and creative fundraising event, Inland Kenworth and Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers have teamed up with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) to raise funds for TAT by auctioning off the one-of-a-kind tractor.
The “Everyday Heroes” truck, retail value $157,000, is fully loaded with a 76-inch sleeper, 485-hp Paccar MX-13 engine, and Eaton Fuller Advantage 10-speed automated transmission.
“We will highlight this truck through our social media,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, “and also hope to plan an event with it and our Freedom Drivers Project, so we hope many carriers will want to add this sweet Kenworth T680 to their fleet ... register to bid today!”
TAT talks to dealerships about TAT partnerships at Bridgestone Executive Symposium
Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, spoke to a couple hundred Bridgestone dealers on April 11 in Orlando, Florida, presenting on human trafficking and the effective role dealerships can play in fighting it by becoming TAT Dealership Partners (TDP).
"Dealers have a critical role to play in combating human trafficking,” Paris said. “By utilizing their locations as distribution points for life-saving materials, and by providing modest financial support to sustain our programs, TAT's Dealership Partners have the potential to reach an exponential amount of the driving workforce through this program. And we are thrilled by our newest TDP in Pomp's, who not only will be distributing materials in their 100 locations, but also donated a substantial amount to TAT via the silent auction of the beautiful Bandag painting created on-site. As always, we are so thankful to Bridgestone for providing us with the opportunity to present in Orlando, and for recognizing the importance of going beyond the bottom line in order to create social change via one's career."
Paul Wochinske, Pomp’s vice president, commented, “We are excited to be associated with Truckers Against Trafficking. Your presentation made a huge impact on the 12 people Pomp’s had at the Bridgestone meeting in Orlando. Thank you for all that TAT does.”
Freedom Drivers Project sports new wrap and exhibits
Clad in a new exterior wrap and with new survivor artifacts and exhibits inside, the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) continues to churn up the miles as it attends events across the country. Its current calendar includes events in Maine, coalition builds in Mississippi and Wyoming, Prime’s Highway Diamonds Gala in Missouri, the Iowa 80 Jamboree, trainings and the Inland Kenworth truck auction in Arizona and the National Traffic Law Center Conference in Ohio.
Even if you’ve been through the FDP in the past, make sure you check out its new exhibits at any event you attend with it in the future.
TAT cohosts two coalition builds in Mississippi
Working with the Mississippi Trucking Association and the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) has scheduled two coalition builds in one week in Mississippi.
TAT staff and the Freedom Drivers Project will travel to Jackson, Mississippi for the first build on May 2, moving to Tupelo on May 4 for the second one.
“We’ve never tried to hold two coalition builds in one week before,” said Esther Goetsch, TAT coalition build specialist. “But we’ve had superb help from the Mississippi Trucking Association. They’ve been instrumental in securing facilities to host these builds, activating trucking stakeholders to attend and covering many of the associated costs. We hope to saturate the state of Mississippi with TAT's message and equip both law enforcement and trucking industry stakeholders with the knowledge and resources to effectively combat these crimes in their work."
TAT News from the April 2017 Newsletter
Need your certification as a TAT-Trained driver?
A number of states are now working to pass legislation mandating that either entry-level Class A CDL applicants or renewal applicants have human trafficking training and/or become certified TAT-Trained as part of their testing requirements.
To help drivers become compliant with that law -- or even comply with a company mandate for TAT training -- TAT has created a portal on our website where anyone can go to watch the TAT training video, take a test on it and receive a printable certificate, showing that they have completed the training. Each person will register to take the training, thereby creating an account. Should they pass the test and earn the certificate, they can print it out. If they ever lose the certificate, they can log back in to their account and print another.
“Providing this portal on our website saves state monies, as the training and certificate cost no one anything, other than the sheet of paper needed to print the certificate,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “It is our hope that this portal will make it easy and convenient for drivers to fulfill their human trafficking training requirement, and that in so doing, they will be better equipped to fight human trafficking should they see it any time, any place, in their travels.”
To check out the portal, click here.
Make your smart phone smarter with a TAT app
If you have a smart phone, TAT has an App for you. For many years, the only TAT app available was for Android phones, but, today, you can download a TAT app from the Google Play Store or iTunes Play Store or from the Windows Play Store, for Android, iPhone or Windows phones, respectively.
The apps feature the TAT wallet card information in an easy-to-follow format. Get your app today, so you have the TAT wallet card with you always.
Click here for more information.
Thanks to your support, TAT meets matching grant total
“We can’t say enough to express our appreciation for the supporters and partners who have stepped up this month –- our first month in this matching grant cycle –- to enable us to be nearing our completion goal,” enthused Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “This is absolutely fantastic and will enable us to accomplish so much in the coming months.
As of March 31, TAT had already received $40,369 toward a goal of $40,000 in order to receive a matching grant of $40,000 from Change a Path (CAP).
CAP, an organization providing financial grants to support not-for-profit organizations working in the sex-trafficking space, has been a major supporter of TAT's coalition builds for the past three years. Coalition builds are strategic half-day trainings to unify the efforts of law enforcement and trucking representatives and close loopholes to traffickers. TAT works with a state's attorney general's office to host coalition builds. Last year, TAT held nine of these events, thanks, in large part, to the funding CAP provided.
This matching grant, if met, will not only fund eight additional coalition builds in 2017 but will provide funds for other TAT programs. CAP likes to provide matching fund grants to bring funders and supporters together to maximize their impact for the organization they are supporting.
TAT cements relationship with Consejo Ciudadano in Mexico City
With so many professional drivers now crossing borders in their jobs, traversing Mexico, the United States and Canada, TAT prints wallet cards in English and Spanish (a French Canadian card is available on our website) to ensure consistent messaging and that a vigilant population of drivers is equipped with the information they need. Until recently, however, the National Human Trafficking Hotline number, 1-888-3737-888, was the only number on the card. But late last year, Mexico’s human trafficking hotline became operational 24/7, and TAT began including that information on the cards as well. The Mexican hotline, 01800-5533-000, is partnered with Polaris Project, which runs the US National Human Trafficking Hotline.
In March, TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier also traveled to Mexico City to meet with members of Consejo Ciudadano (Citizen’s Council) to strategize on the replication of TAT’s model to engage the members of their trucking industry in the fight against human trafficking.
"We’re impressed with the inroads Consejo Ciudadano has made in combatting crime in their country, and we’re excited to work with them and strategize on ways to engage Mexico's trucking industry in this fight,” said Lanier. “The two days of meetings with Consejo Ciudadano staff were extremely productive and encouraging, and we look forward to a deepening relationship going forward. United, we can have a broader impact in the fight against human trafficking and see more victims recovered and more perpetrators brought to justice."
Drivers step up to help with TAT training, projects at MATS
At this year’s Mid-America Truck Show in Louisville, Kentucky on March 23-25, the TAT team found themselves with plenty of opportunities to speak with fleet owners, company drivers and owner-operators about the realities of domestic sex trafficking.
"We heard from drivers whose own families have been affected by sexual exploitation to others who have made calls on behalf of victims and seen the recovery with their own eyes,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “We ran into a lot of long-time supporters, and, hopefully, taught hundreds of new drivers about TAT and what to do when they see forced prostitution taking place. We also are so thankful for our time with the Walmart Road Team, and the American Trucking Associations Road Team Captains, as both either volunteered at our booth or worked with us on a current project.”
TAT was also able to complete two training certification sessions led by Kylla Lanier, TAT's deputy director. Both training sessions were sponsored by the Kentucky Trucking Association, a TAT partner, and the Friday seminar was even featured in the Transport Topics Saturday show report. Kevin Kimmel, TAT's 2015 Harriet Tubman Award winner, also participated in the certification trainings and gave drivers a firsthand account of why it's so important to make the call as soon as you suspect something is not right.
TAT joins Inland Kenworth, Utility Trailer Sales Company of Arizona to make presentations to Arizona Human Trafficking Council
Lyn Thompson, TAT communications specialist, Don Blake, new truck sales manager for Inland Kenworth, and George Cravens, president of Utility Trailer Sales Company of Arizona, presented to the Arizona Human Trafficking Council on March 22. Thompson provided an overview of TAT, while Blake and Cravens spoke about the Everyday Heroes 2018 Kenworth tractor that will be auctioned off at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers on June 20, with all proceeds going to TAT. Toward the end of the meeting, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey thanked the Council for their work to fight human trafficking, as well as TAT and the trucking industry, and then led council members and the audience to the capitol entrance to view the Everyday Heroes truck and take photos.
“It was a privilege to present to the Arizona Human Trafficking Council, co-chaired by Cindy McCain and Gil Orrantia, and to hear about the comprehensive work this team of professionals is doing to fight human trafficking in Arizona and beyond,” said Thompson. “Everyone I spoke with was just as complimentary of the efforts of the trucking industry nationwide in the fight against this crime. And I wish everyone could have heard all the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ over the Kenworth tractor that will be auctioned off. Gov. Ducey even sat in the cab and had fun honking the horn. It is a beautiful, signature, one-of-a-kind truck that catches people’s attention.”
TAT News from the March 2017 Newsletter
Give now and double the size of your donation through a 40K matching grant from Change a Path
If you’ve been thinking about becoming a corporate sponsor of Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) or donating to TAT, March 1-May 31 would be a perfect time, because your monies will double, thanks to a $40 thousand matching grant from Change a Path (CAP).
CAP, an organization providing financial grants to support not-for-profit organizations working in the sex-trafficking space, has been a major supporter of TAT’s coalition builds for the past three years. Coalition builds are strategic half-day trainings to unify the efforts of law enforcement and trucking representatives and close loopholes to traffickers. TAT works with a state’s attorney general’s office to host coalition builds, and, last year, held nine of these events, thanks, in large part, to the funding CAP provided.
This matching grant, if met, will not only fund eight additional coalition builds in 2017 but will provide funds for other TAT programs. CAP likes to provide matching fund grants to bring funders and supporters together to maximize their impact for the organization they are supporting.
Give today and double your support for TAT!
Busing on the Lookout (BOTL)
Similar to members of the trucking industry, bus drivers and terminal employees are often in places where they can intersect with potential victims. They need training. TAT, through its connections with commercial vehicle enforcement and safety associations, has been approached for several years about creating industry-specific materials for employees in this area of transportation. Those are now available on the TAT website in the form of a webinar and a bus-industry wallet card. Bus lines have also shown interest in TAT’s Want Out of the Life posters for their bus terminals as well as the TAT side-window decals.
“By creating these materials, we’re developing an ever-broadening, transient army of eyes and ears,” explained Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “We want busing employees to be on the lookout. We know bus terminals are one of the places traffickers use for recruitment, and the buses themselves are a mode of transportation traffickers use to transport their victims.”
If you’re in the busing industry, write email@example.com to get your wallet cards and posters today.
TAT to train CDL driving testers in Colorado
Due to an opportunity presented to TAT by the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR), in the months of March and April, TAT staff will be training all “third-party testers,” the instructors hired by the DOR to conduct the driving portion of the test for people wanting their CDL licenses in the state. This includes both truck and bus CDL testers.
“Testers spend hours with CDL applicants and are in a position to share this life-saving information and pass along a TAT wallet card to each applicant. They are a wonderful point of distribution for this information, and we’re looking forward to training them,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director.
The training schedule includes: March 7 in Golden (School Bus/Passenger); March 21 in Grand Junction (Class A,B,C,/Passenger); March 28 in Golden (Class A,B,C/Passenger); April 6 in Golden (Class A,B,C/Passenger); April 18-19 in Colorado Springs (both School Bus/Passenger (on April 18) and Class A,B,C/Passenger (on April 19).
The Colorado DOR also passes out at TAT wallet card with every commercial driver’s license issued.
TAT releases law enforcement training DVD
In an effort to provide law enforcement with either a solid start to an officer’s human trafficking education or a supplemental resource building on previous training, Truckers Against Trafficking is releasing a law enforcement training DVD, available, free-of-charge, online. Hard copies will be available by the end of March by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are very thankful to all the top-notch officers and prosecutors who participated in this training film,” commented Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, “and believe it will be very beneficial in preparing first responders to recognize and respond to human trafficking effectively. We also want to thank Help Inc., our main sponsor for this training tool, as well as iEmpathize for their excellent shooting and production work.”
‘Everyday Heroes’ Kenworth T680 to be auctioned off to support TAT
In a unique and creative fundraising event, Inland Kenworth and Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers are teaming up with Truckers Against Trafficking to raise funds for TAT by auctioning off a customized 2018 Kenworth T680. Individuals and carriers can support the cause by registerin at RBAuction.com after April 21, with all proceeds going directly to TAT. The truck will be auctioned off June 20.
The “Everyday Heroes” truck, retail value $157,000, will be exhibited at the American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance Council event in Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 27-March 2 in the FlowBelow booth #1052. The special Kenworth T680 is fully loaded with a 76-inch sleeper, 485-hp Paccar MX-13 engine, and Eaton Fuller Advantage 10-speed automated transmission.
Don Blake, Inland Kenworth’s truck sales manager in the Phoenix area, spearheaded this fundraising effort, after listening to a TAT presentation.
“I had to wipe the tears from my eyes after learning the horrors that TAT rescues people from today,” he said. “I knew right then that I wanted to help our industry combat human trafficking. With the support of Inland Kenworth and Kenworth Truck Co. we decided to build a special truck with the idea of having the cost offset by Kenworth and component sponsors. The response was nothing short of unbelievable. This project has mobilized a group of caring industry suppliers, and together we are going to help save some lives.”
TAT News from the February 2017 Newsletter
Check out TAT’s 2016 Annual Report
Truckers Against Trafficking invites you to check out our 2016 annual report, which is now available digitally on our website. The theme for this year’s report is Maximizing Partnerships through Program Expansion. If you’re interested in obtaining a printed copy of the report, please contact email@example.com.
TAT hires State-Based Initiatives Director
Stephanie Walton joins the TAT staff as director of state-based initiatives (SBI), responsible for taking TAT’s relationships with state agencies to a new level of partnership. In this role, Walton will work to identify necessary pathways in each state for full implementation of TAT’s Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement (IA MVE) model, and then build out the necessary relational infrastructure for complete adoption nationwide. Walton will also identify additional ways state agencies can partner with TAT via its applicable programs.
Prior to joining TAT, Walton worked at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, focusing on initiatives to prevent and reduce youth tobacco use. She also worked for many years at the National Conference of State Legislatures, where she provided information, technical assistance and legislative testimony to states on a number of human services topics. Walton received her MA degree in political science from the University of Colorado at Denver, and her BA at Linfield College in Oregon. She lives with her husband near Denver and, in their spare time, they like to explore the outdoors.
A shout out to Hoekstra Transportation LLC for their anti-trafficking efforts
Working to partner with their local Zonta group, Hoekstra Transportation LLC went the extra mile in 2016 and wrapped three of their trailers with anti-human trafficking messages. Additionally, Hoekstra hauled the Freedom Drivers Project from the 2016 SuperRigs event to the Illinois Truck Driving Championships last year.
Thank you to the California Trucking Association
The California Trucking Association (CTA), the first state trucking association to partner with TAT back in 2011, has presented TAT with $10,900, as a result of a call for donations by CTA Policy Director Eric Sauer. The Bay Area presented a portion of the money in December, and the rest came to TAT through the CTA board meeting in January. The money was donated through fundraising efforts including golf tournaments, driver and member company donations and employee donations.
“Since 2011, CTA and its members have proudly partnered with Truckers Against Trafficking to do what we can to stop human trafficking. In addition to our members frequently serving as the eyes and ears of what’s happening on our roads and highways and working with TAT to alert authorities to incidents of trafficking, our members have also contributed more than $38,800 to TAT over the last 5 years,” said Shawn Yadon, CEO of the California Trucking Association.
Jacobs and Lanier receive high marks for law enforcement training in Mississippi
Between Jan. 10-14, TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier and TAT Field Trainer and survivor leader Beth Jacobs traveled the state of Mississippi training the law enforcement division of the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT). In four different locations, they conducted six three-hour trainings. As a result of the trainings, MDOT will now be stocking all weigh stations and ports of entry with TAT materials. The officers will be visiting truck stops and trucking companies within their jurisdiction and will use their position to raise awareness about TAT. There was also interest from the Highway Patrol for possible trainings as well.
Chief Willie Huff, MDOT Law Enforcement Director, said, “I have heard many compliments from the officers ... Hopefully this knowledge will enable us to look a little deeper into a situation we may have never looked into before and allow a victim to be given their life back … Thank you again.”
Following the session attended by Captain James Burns and his officers, Burns wrote, “All officers that I talked to were very complimentary of the class and said it really opened their eyes to this problem. They were like me when I first attended the class in that they were under the impression the person being trafficked had broken the law and needed to be dealt with accordingly. We did not see them as a victim at that time.”
He continued, “All of the information was very beneficial. The icing on the cake is when a victim can stand before the officers and explain to them how this whole scenario takes shape. We can then see how a person can be manipulated/abused/threatened and become so intimidated that they are afraid to try to escape. To me, it seemed you had just the right amount of information before the victim addressed the class. All officers I have talked to said, in the future, they would look at these people as victims instead of as a perpetrator. I noticed during the class that most all of the officers were very attentive. That is unusual for a class that last as long as this one. It proves that your material was top-notch.”
Based on evaluations conducted at each location, Lanier commented, “The response to the information and Beth's story were amazingly positive, and we look forward to deepening our partnership with MDOT and Mississippi law enforcement. A special thanks to Chief Willie Huff, Captain Powell and our awesome guide and coordinator Captain Arthur for bringing this important training to their officers!”
Texas Attorney General, legislators, Texas Trucking Association and TAT partner on CDL training bills
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, State Senator Sylvia Garcia, State Representative Senfronia Thompson and Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, were among the speakers at a Children at Risk Human Trafficking Advocacy Day Rally and press conference Jan. 25 at the Texas state capitol in Austin to announce mirror bills by Garcia and Thompson which include TAT training in requirements for CDL licensing in the state of Texas.
House bill 272 and Senate bill 128 both have the goal of increasing anti-human trafficking training for truck drivers in Texas, recognizing that members of the trucking industry play a critical role in the fight against human trafficking.
“Truckers Against Trafficking is very pleased to support legislation ensuring that professional drivers would secure this life-saving information and training,” said Lanier. “Our partners at the Texas Trucking Association also believe in the power of the trucking industry to make an impact in this fight against slavery. We are grateful to the leadership of Representative Thompson and Senator Garcia in sponsoring this legislation.”
While John Esparza, president of the Texas Trucking Association, didn’t speak at the press conference, he is aware of both bills and will be working with the state legislature on bill passage.
TAT News from the January 2017 Newsletter
Looking ahead to 2017
by Kendis Paris, TAT executive director
After an exciting and successful 2016, in addition to thanking you for your incredible support in this critical fight to end human trafficking, I wanted to share a few insights with you on where TAT is headed and how we plan on getting there in 2017 and beyond.
First, I want you to know that TAT is working to scale sustainably. Our goal has never been to simply grow TAT as an organization but to extend our influence and reach as much as possible each year in the trucking industry by expanding existing programs, beginning new ones where necessary, and building the necessary infrastructure for model replication, either internationally or across modes of transportation.
As you know, traffickers use and exploit various means of transportation to move and sell their victims, and while trucking is and will always remain our primary focus, we believe it’s important for employees in all modes of commercial transportation to become trained to increase their awareness, so they can recognize this crime any time, any place, but especially when it appears on their doorsteps. Therefore, because our partnerships are expanding, especially when we consider all the government agencies we currently work with (DOT, Department of Public Safety, Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Revenue, Department of Licensing), TAT has expanded its goals to the following:
· Saturate trucking and related industries with TAT materials.
· Partner with law enforcement and government agencies to facilitate the investigation of human trafficking.
· Marshal the resources of our partners to combat this crime.
While we want to always ensure we’re capable of fulfilling our mission of educating, equipping, empowering and mobilizing the trucking industry to fight human trafficking, the expansion of our goals enables us to consider the trajectory of the industry we primarily work with and the abolitionist movement as a whole.
As we look at all we hope to accomplish in 2017 -- like dramatically increasing how many are registered as TAT trained, assisting in developing anti-trafficking legislation, continuing to build out coalitions between industry stakeholders and law enforcement at the local and state level, along with much more -- we are excited.
But what truly motivates us is unearthing all the amazing TAT champions we find along the way, whether it be a professional driver, state legislator, law enforcement official at any level, safety director, CEO of a manufacturing company, dealer manager, CDL instructor, truck stop GM, STA president, trucking or government official in any role, etc. We are truly in this together and, with your help, can make 2017 the most impactful year yet.
Remember to keep an eye out for our 2016 Annual Report, which will hopefully be out and on our website by the end of this month, to give you an encapsulated version of what we all accomplished as TATs this past year.
Freedom Drivers Project adds to the fun at Heartland Express
The Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) traveled to Jacksonville, Florida in December for its last road trip of 2016 to join Heartland Express for their Driver Appreciation event.
“We had a great time sharing in celebrating drivers with them,” said Helen Van Dam, FDP director. “Drivers are vital to the safety of our roads, and we’re so thankful for their work to recognize and report sex trafficking. An extra shout out to the Heartland Express drivers who toured the Freedom Drivers Project and committed to call the hotline! Thank you to all the Heartland Express staff that made it possible for us to be there. We had a great time enjoying the sunshine, company, and food. Thank you also to Mode Transportation, Grammer Industries, and Quality Distribution for hauling the FDP.”
TAT and the FDP head to Kentucky for National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, and Helen Van Dam, Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) director, along with the FDP, will head to Frankfort, Kentucky Jan. 10-12 to commemorate National Human Trafficking Awareness Day Jan. 11.
Kentucky Attorney General Anthony Beshear is planning a media and community event in the rotunda of the state capitol. Paris will speak at that event, which will be attended by some state legislators.
Beshear, whose office hosted a TAT coalition build in 2016, reports that human trafficking is on the increase in Kentucky, despite the fact that the state has some of the “best human-trafficking laws on the books.”
He said, “In other words, our structure is in place. What it needs is our focus and our expertise. In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, there’s no such thing as a child prostitute … that is a child being human trafficked, and people need to see that, whether it’s the terrible examples that we’ve seen of the foster parent selling his foster daughter’s body for furniture or people dressing up their kids in scandalous clothing outside a movie theater and trying to pimp them to folks. That’s human trafficking. The biggest impediment is people don’t understand it when they see it, and they don’t know the special investigative techniques that are needed for the laws that are out there so that we can successfully prosecute them. We’re committed to changing that.”
Beshear is currently working on partnerships between his office and those in the trucking and hotel industries to combat human trafficking. He hopes to find sponsors for and to file legislation that will make TAT training a mandatory part of entry-level CDL training requirements in Kentucky.
TAT sends two to Mississippi to provide four days of training
Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, and Beth Jacobs, TAT field trainer and survivor-leader, working with the law enforcement division of Mississippi’s DOT, will provide six three-hour training sessions in Mississippi Jan. 10-14 for motor vehicle enforcement and state patrol officers from across the state.
This three-hour, jointly taught training will include human trafficking 101, an overview of TAT’s Iowa MVE model, Jacob's story with a focus on using a victim-centered approach, an activity called “Is Prostitution a Profession?” to provoke thoughts of prostitution being the oldest oppression not the oldest profession, and then case studies, giving attendees an understanding of how to handle similar situations and what to look for as signs of a person being trafficked. Jacobs provides a handout with local emergency housing and other resources, tips for using a victim-centered approach and contact information for a survivor leader living in Mississippi and willing to work with law enforcement.
“Organizations such as Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) recognize that members of the trucking industry are an invaluable asset in the fight against the heinous crime of human trafficking,” said Chief Willie Huff, Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) Office of Enforcement director. “With Mississippi having nearly 150 cases of human trafficking reported since 2007, it’s critical that MDOT Enforcement partners with organizations like TAT to further train our officers on ways to combat this increasing issue and uncover these victims in our state.”The trainings will take place in Batesville, Tupelo, Newton, the Mississippi DOT training room, McComb and Hattiesburg.
TAT News from the December 2016 Newsletter
Giving to TAT promises bang for your buck!
If you’re one of many individuals and companies planning your donation strategy for end-of-the-year giving, please consider Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) as a worthy recipient … worthy not only because of our mission but also because of the impact we’re making.
TAT works with one of the most critical transportation industries in our nation to help their 7-million members function as front-line responders in the fight against human trafficking. In the short seven years TAT has existed, and due, in large part, to the strategic, far-reaching and committed relationships we’ve built, members of the trucking industry are demonstrating their effectiveness in assisting law enforcement in realizing the arrest of perpetrators and the recovery of victims.
Consider, with just seven staff members, four of whom are part-time, TAT’s results include:
• More than 280,000 trucking industry members have been registered as TAT Trained on our website. This is up from 174,761 at the end of 2015.
• Truckers have now made 1534 calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, resulting in 471 potential cases, involving 1033 victims.
• TAT’s survivor-leader Beth Jacobs has trained law enforcement at all of our coalition builds, and in enhanced trainings in Ohio, North Carolina, Kansas, and Maine. She is also leading TAT’s charge alongside AAMVA to help survivors obtain driver's licenses.
• In 2016, TAT held nine coalition builds across the nation ... strategic meetings between law enforcement and industry stakeholders designed to close loopholes to traffickers at a local level.
• In 2016, the Freedom Drivers Project attended 37 events in 21 states, traveling 32,044 miles, leaving more than 960,000 impressions along the way. More than 9,300 toured the exhibit this year alone, more than 20,000 since it debuted in August 2014.
• 27 states have adopted the Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement model in part or in whole.
• In Ohio, TAT training is now mandated for all entry-level CDL holders. Multiple states are also looking at implementing this mandate.
• Our Shipping Partners Program has grown this year through new relationships with Costco, Hewlett Packard and Praxair.
• All 50 state trucking associations are now TAT partners.
• TAT presented its Harriet Tubman Award to two TA/Petro employees in Jessup, Maryland, whose observations, quick thinking and follow-up call to police last year helped law enforcement in Howard County arrest three traffickers and recover six of the 12 women they were forcibly prostituting.
• After being approached by representatives of the new Mexican human trafficking hotline, TAT has now added that hotline number to its wallet cards for drivers who may cross the border between the United States and Mexico as part of their jobs.
• Facebook followers as of mid-November were 144,003; Twitter 30,216; and Instagram 6445.
TAT is recognized by legislators, lawmakers, law enforcement, the anti-trafficking world, survivors and many others for applying its efforts on programs and in directions that yield results, for its ability to create partnerships that provide effective problem-solving and mobilization of more people and companies and for its commitment to creating models that can be replicated across the transportation and into other industries.
Please join TAT’s work for this coming year with your end-of-the-year gift now. Together, we can continue to achieve truckloads of results.
TAT presents on coalition builds to Childhood Brasil’s On the Right Track program
Speaking before two select audience groups in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, presented TAT’s coalition build program on Nov. 22 at the request of Childhood Brasil, and its anti-trafficking trucking program, On the Right Track.
Recognizing that Brazil’s most important mode of transportation was trucking, Childhood Brasil, an organization created in 1999 to fight for children in Brazil to have a childhood free of exploitation and abuse, started its On the Right Track Program after conducting a nationwide study of drivers in 2005. The studies looked at, among other things, what life on the road is like, what drivers experience on the road, their sexual life, what exploitation they are seeing and what it looks like, whether they’re purchasing sex, etc.
Over 1500 companies in transportation and shipping participate, and drivers are referred to as “Protective Agents.” Because they see the exploitation, have information and intel, understand the lay of the land and know the hotspots, they are deemed the ones in the best position to help in the recovery of children who are being exploited.
Childhood Brasil trains company trainers who then train the drivers, but the training is much more comprehensive than just sex trafficking. Childhood Brasil covers the security of the roads, exploitation (sexual and otherwise), family communication, health, emotional health, etc.
However, following additional studies conducted in 2010 and 2015, the organization staff recognized they need to be more strategic in high-risk/vulnerable areas. They like the idea of TAT coalition builds for locations including harbor areas and industrial complexes. Apparently, truckers can be there for days at a time, and traffickers are targeting these areas. As many as a hundred companies can be in one industrial complex and ship out of the harbors. Childhood Brasil believes a modified coalition build between key companies (shipping and trucking and law enforcement) would be beneficial for combatting this.
At the conference where Lanier spoke, which also celebrated the 10-year anniversary of On the Right Track, more than 300 participants from companies, transportation, police and government and justice/security representatives were in attendance.
“This speaking opportunity was an honor,” said Lanier. “Knowing that the trucking community in Brazil is actively seeking to end sexual exploitation on their nation's roads is so encouraging and inspiring. Hearing about their amazing work and getting to share about TAT's coalition build program with them was a great privilege. We look forward to a continued collaboration with Childhood Brasil!”
Childhood Brasil also uses the TAT training video dubbed into Portuguese and are hosted on a weekly trucking show, similar to the Dave Nemo Show on Sirius XM, where they cover all manner of topics to truck drivers.
All 50 state trucking associations now work with TAT
With the inclusion of Alaska and Hawaii this fall, all 50 state trucking associations have now pledged their support to Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) in raising awareness throughout their membership about the issue of human trafficking and the need for all companies to train their drivers and employees with the free training materials available through TAT.
Many of the state trucking associations not only have TAT speak at their annual conference, but they send out regular reminders to their members about the need to train with TAT materials; they use their influence to obtain additional speaking engagements for TAT staff when in the area; they hold fundraisers for TAT and/or become corporate sponsors; and they work with law enforcement in the state to expand distribution of TAT materials to trucking wherever possible.
A recent example of this kind of support came from Louis Campion, president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association (MMTA), who invited TAT to speak at the MMTA board of directors meeting in November. He then maximized the effectiveness of that trip by securing TAT two additional speaking engagements, one with the MMTA Eastern Shore Chapter meeting and one at the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools regional meeting, which was occurring nearby during the same week.
“I think the work Louis did to use his relationships on behalf of TAT and getting the message out about human trafficking and the need for training with TAT materials is that latest example of how state trucking association partnerships are so imperative and helpful to TAT,” commented Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “We are very grateful that one trip provided us with those three important opportunities.”
Freedom Drivers Project racks up the miles thanks to hauls from our partners
Anyone in trucking responsible for keeping trucks moving down the road is intimately acquainted with the cost per mile per truck, and the numerous expenses which contribute to the total amount.
For a non-profit organization like Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), focused on the education, equipping, empowering and mobilizing of the members of the trucking industry to fight human trafficking as part of their everyday jobs, as well as on raising awareness of the issue among the general public, keeping the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) on the road is a major undertaking. Without the generous help of partners, it would mean a significant expense impacting and perhaps curtailing or limiting other areas of the mission, including the production and distribution of training materials, travel to speaking engagements or the amount of activity for the FDP itself.
Last year, the FDP attended 32 events around the nation at a driver/gas cost alone of $42,000. This year, thanks to free hauls provided by a number of TAT partners, the FDP attended 37 events in 21 states, traveling 32,044 miles, leaving more than 960,000 impressions along the way, and the cost to TAT was only $6,300. More than 9,300 toured the exhibit in 2016.
“We are so appreciative of the companies and individuals who generously provided these hauls for the FDP,” said Helen Van Dam, FDP director. “They have proven themselves to be committed truckers against trafficking, and their investment in TAT and the FDP has resulted in thousands being visibly moved by the exhibit and equipped to join the fight to end this crime.”
Those responsible for FDP hauls in 2016 include Apex Transportation, AWL Transport Inc., Boyd Brothers Transportation, CAST Transportation, Central Tech, Classic Carriers Inc., Covenant Transportation, Godfrey Trucking, Heartland Express, Hoekstra Transportation LLC, JBS Carriers, Knight Transportation, MJ Tank Lines, P & S Transportation, Quality Distributions, Total Transportation of MS, LLC, Twin Eagle, USA Truck, Voyager Express, Walmart and Werner Enterprises. One donor also provided money specifically for one haul.
Since its debut in August 2014, the FDP has attended a total of 89 events in 30 states, traveling over 83,000 miles and been toured by close to 20,000 people from all walks of life and professions ... from state and national legislators to company executives, mid-level managers, safety directors, law enforcement personnel, truck drivers and the general public. This year events have included press conferences in front of state capitols, trucking appreciation days, truck driving championships – both state and national, trucking shows – including the Iowa 80 Jamboree, trucking conferences, coalition builds, the Rotary World Peace Conference, state anti-human trafficking events, state fairs, and many others.
By August 2017, the FDP will be sporting a new look on the outside as well as new survivor artifacts and stories on the inside. “We want to keep the FDP fresh for people,” said Van Dam. “We hope that even if you’ve toured the FDP in the past, if you see us at an event you’re attending, that you’ll come by and tour again to take in all the changes we’ll be making.”
TAT News from the November 2016 Newsletter
TAT gives thanks for supporters, partners and successes
As we begin this month where we remember our blessings and give thanks for so much, TAT would like to thank all of our supporters and partners, especially those who go above and beyond to raise awareness and educate others about the realities of domestic sex trafficking. While it would be impossible to mention everyone by name in this article, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few
We’ve had some extremely advantageous speaking opportunities this year, thanks to organizations such as the ATA, AAMVA and the Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement, which have included: the American Trucking Associations Management Conference and Exhibition Oct. 3, the American Trucking Associations Safety Management Council and Transportation Security Council’s 2016 Safety, Security and Human Resources National Conference Oct. 24-26, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators Annual International Conference in August, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Annual Conference and Exhibition in September. TAT was also invited to send its Freedom Drivers Project to the American Trucking Associations National Truck Driving Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana this summer. And thank you to the Arkansas Trucking Association for the invite to their state fair and all those who volunteered to help us at the Arkansas State Fair.
Additionally, we’ve had some excellent coalition builds this year and want to thank all of those in the Office of the Attorney General in those various states who worked so hard to help us host those events. A special shout-out to the OAG in Utah … that build was not only successful, but we’ve gained two more law enforcement trainings in Utah as a result.
The number of registered TAT-trained drivers/employees is now over 277,000 and closing in on 278,000. And people like Lindsey England, PHP, director of Human Resources at Pride Transport, are among those helping to increase those numbers. She wrote us to say, "I've been doing the TAT training every week, sometimes twice a week. Every Wednesday for our new hires and then every Thursday after our safety meetings. It's really cool to see how many people are impacted by the training. Even though I do this regularly now, I still get choked up every week. This is a cause that I know I will spend the rest of my life supporting and advocating for. The training has brought a huge amount of awareness and support throughout our organization. We've also set up a weekly payroll deduction for TAT. We'll send those contributions in on a monthly basis."
If you’re helping to train drivers but haven’t gone to our website to register the number trained, please do so now. It’s simple and takes only a couple minutes.
Have you watched the TAT video … Upworthy style?
If you haven’t, you should join the more than 1,908,922 people who have. A couple months ago, Upworthy approached TAT to ask if they could reformat the TAT training video for their Facebook page so they could raise awareness about our organization. Their mission says:
Lots of media companies have a mission. But Upworthy is on a mission to change what the world pays attention to. We believe that stories about important issues can and should be great stories — stories for everyone, stories that connect us and sometimes even change the world. Because we’re all part of the same story.
So take a second and click here to check it out. There have been a great number of excellent comments about the trucking industry and what its members are doing to fight human trafficking.
Third quarter numbers show trucker calls to the NHTRC continue to rise
Polaris Project, which runs the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), reports that as of the end of the third quarter 2016, calls from truckers were up to 1534, resulting in 471 potential cases of human trafficking, involving 1033 victims, of which 285 are minors. This is TAT in action, and we urge you to continue making those calls whenever you suspect human trafficking is taking place!
Your calls result in victims being recovered and perpetrators and buyers being arrested. The NHTRC provided the following third quarter incident report:
TAT News from the October 2016 Newsletter
TA Travel Plaza employees receive TAT’s Harriet Tubman Award
Debo Adepiti and Alan Bailey, two TA Travel Plaza employees in Jessup, Maryland, have been awarded the Truckers Against Trafficking Harriet Tubman Award for their actions last year which resulted in the arrest of traffickers and the recovery of victims.
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.
“Because of Harriet Tubman’s connection to transportation through the Underground Railroad and her heroic work to free thousands of slaves, TAT believes she epitomizes the symbol of freedom a trucking anti-trafficking award represents,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director.
Adepiti and Porter were presented the award and check on Sept. 20 at the Jessup travel plaza. “The training and procedures behind Truckers Against Trafficking are based on a very simple instruction: if you see or suspect something, call,” said Tom Liutkus, senior vice president of marketing and public relations for TravelCenters of America. “Alan and Debo did just that. Their actions led to the arrest of a three-person trafficking ring that was canvassing the entire Baltimore area and that law enforcement was already pursuing. Most importantly, newspaper accounts of the story indicate as many as 12 women had been trafficked across that area. Alan and Debo’s call has forever resulted in changing the lives of those victims for the better. By strict definition of the word, their action was not ‘heroic,’ but the results were. We at TA/Petro are very proud of them.”
Field manager Adepiti at the TA Travel Plaza was making a premise check, including the fuel desk, mechanics shop and hotel, when Alan Bailey, the night porter, told him a young lady had recently come in dressed provocatively; the porter suspected prostitution. After speaking with both the driver of the ban that brought the girl, as well as the young lady when she left the hotel, Adepiti believed the girl was being trafficked. He contacted Howard County police. When detectives arrived, they recognized a woman from one of the "X-Factor" ads they'd been investigating for two months on Backpage.com. As a result of Adepiti's call, they arrested two men and a woman on human trafficking charges. The trio were advertising as many as 12 women from various states, posting ads, renting hotel rooms, scheduling appointments for prostitution and taking money from the women after they were forced to perform sex acts. Detectives also learned all three individuals provided drugs to keep the women high, making them work without sleep, assaulting them and forcing them to perform sex acts with them under threat. Police were able to locate and recover six of the women being abused by the ring of traffickers.
Oregon becomes 47th state trucking association to partner with TAT
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is delighted to welcome the Oregon Trucking Association as one of its state trucking association partners. Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, presented at the Oregon Trucking Association's Annual Leadership Conference in Redmond, Oregon on Sept. 24. OTA president Jana Jarvis pledged the association's support in furthering TAT's message among their 450 member companies. TAT was warmly welcomed, and carriers in the room took training materials back to their companies in the hopes that their drivers can be “changemakers” in someone's life.
"The sincerity of the OTA staff's response to TAT's message was very encouraging. We look forward to working with them to make sure Oregon's trucking industry is educated and equipped to stand up against the scourge of human trafficking," said Lanier.
TAT message well-received at CVSA annual conference
With law enforcement officers and commercial transportation industry members gathered from across the nation to strategize on and discuss road safety issues, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) annual conference, held in Little Rock, Arkansas this year, was an ideal audience for the message of Truckers Against Trafficking.
On Sept. 19, Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, presented in both the Region III jurisdiction meeting, which includes law enforcement and industry representatives from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin, as well as the associate members meeting, which includes transportation safety organizations and trade associations, trucking and bus companies, industry suppliers and vendors, training institutions, consultants, insurance companies, state and provincial trucking associations and small-fleet owner operators.
"The TAT message was extremely well-received in both meetings, and, afterwards, I had law enforcement personnel, large and small fleets, as well as multiple bus companies, introduce themselves and pledge to TAT train. I'd love to give a big TAT shout-out to both Chief Lorenzen, of the Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement, for arranging the Region III presentation time, and to Jason Wing, director of fleet safety for Walmart, for making sure TAT was able to present at the associate members meeting. Both men are classic examples of using your influence well, and their simple action will have an exponential effect."
Freedom Drivers Project helps Covenant Transportation celebrate its drivers
Covenant Transportation, a new TAT silver level sponsor and partner, hosted Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, and the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) on Sept. 12-13 in Chattanooga, Tennessee for their driver appreciation days. Over 200 employees toured the FDP, and 75 attended training sessions to learn more about human trafficking and how they could be part of the solution.
Andrew Scharff, Covenant program manager and the man who coordinated TAT’s visit, said, “At Covenant, one of the values we are built on is putting others before ourselves and feel this makes our relationship with TAT and its mission a perfect fit. We are excited about our growing partnership and the lives that can be changed forever through it.”
Covenant supplied volunteers to help work the FDP for the visit. They also committed to training all their employees with TAT training materials and even created an introductory video for their drivers and other employees, detailing why they believe TAT training is important. Additionally, they made a video for their Facebook page urging everyone to come out and tour the FDP.
“It’s always exciting when you get to hear people speak about TAT’s mission as their own mission. When the fight against trafficking, and the importance of the trucking industry to that fight, resonates with people personally, as it does with those at Covenant, it makes for a solid partnership,” commented Lanier.
TAT News from the September 2016 Newsletter
Editorial comment on Tennessee Bureau of Investigation bust of commercial sex buyers
by Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director
It was very interesting to read some of the comments on our Facebook post in August about a bust that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conducted netting 41 buyers of commercial sex. It was an operation where agents posed as prostituted people, and men, looking to engage in the illegal practice of prostitution, made arrangements to meet with and pay for sexual acts with these supposed prostituted people. Many of the men asked for minors.
While the majority of the comments commended law enforcement’s efforts and saw the validity of going after the demand side of the commercial sex industry, there were a disheartening number of comments on our page related to this post defending or feeling sorry for the would-be buyers of commercial sex. And even though they were the minority on our page, it is to those commentators that we felt we needed to respond, because it reflects a deep misunderstanding of the issue.
Please note that when law enforcement does prostitution stings to lock up those being prostituted, no one bats an eye. Law enforcement pose as sex buyers, and when money is exchanged or verbal confirmation of said agreement is recorded, boom, they make the arrest. No one cries foul, because what the prostituted person is doing is illegal, and the intent was there, even if the action never took place. And no one seems to feel sad or sorry for the prostituted person, even though we know that most of them have pimps (even the adults) and are there under pimp control or for the lack of other viable options.
Now, the exact same thing happened here, but instead of posing as the buyer, law enforcement posed as the prostituted person. Men WILLINGLY went to the sites, set up meetings and had their money in hand. Many asked for a minor. The intent was there; the money was ready to go. Yet, now, there is outrage for these “poor men” who were “tricked” and “entrapped.”
Those suggesting that the buyers have had their lives ruined, because they were cited and fined are john apologists. Stop excusing their behavior. Stop lessening it. They are the root of the problem. They went with the intent to commit an illegal act. No one held a gun to their head. No one forced them to be trolling the sites. Please understand that having worked with law enforcement all over this country, officers say that in their "john" busts, all the buyers always say it was their first time, even though records show otherwise. Until we stop making excuses for the BUYERS -- those driving this whole illegal market in the first place -- we can't end sex trafficking.
But beyond those just feeling sorry for these “poor men” who “didn’t know any better” and who were “tempted by “hot” girls and couldn’t control themselves,” we had multiple comments about just legalizing prostitution. These people’s reasoning included excuses for men such as needing sex on demand, needing prostitutes so they don’t rape “good women,” being unable to attract a woman and needing to buy sex and buying sex is like dating and marriage. They also declared that either you could end sex trafficking by legalizing prostitution or that the problem is so large, you might as well join those clamoring for legalized prostitution.
The ignorance in the above statements is staggering. Setting the bar so low for men is amazingly insulting. The concept that we need a class of disposable women in our society to be raped and exploited is, at its core, the worst example of misogyny. To those who think the sexual exploitation of predominantly women is just like dating and marriage, we think you may need to examine your relationships and perhaps hold yourself to a higher standard.
The erroneous belief that sex trafficking ends where prostitution is legal is perhaps one of the most under researched and ignorant statements of all. Unless you mean that because law enforcement would neither have the inclination, funds or resources allotted to the monitoring of prostitution when it is “just another business” and, therefore, sex trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of victims would be completely ignored and no arrests of traffickers or recoveries of victims would occur, then we guess you are right. The sex trafficking and exploitation would just happen, and no one would know … sort of why it is allowed to exist in the first place. Sex trafficking is inherent in the commercial sex industry … the “legal” commercial sex industry. Normalizing the purchase of commercial sex simply leads to increased demand for it, and there aren’t enough willing participants selling it. It will only lead to more and more trafficking.
Demand Abolition has put together many academic articles and reports from all over the world into one location on their site that speak to the increase of trafficking when legalization of prostitution occurs.
We have to get serious about the demand side of prostitution and sex trafficking. Will there always be an element seeking commercial sex? Sure, but instead of caving into that minority, let's send a clear message that we are done accepting their bad behavior. We are done letting it slide, giving it a slap on the wrist, and making excuses for them. That starts with you and me.
Jacobs presents on survivor identification needs at AAMVA Annual International Conference
Whether their ID cards are destroyed by their traffickers, or they’re arrested and photographed under a false name, survivors of human trafficking often face a serious, Catch-22 struggle to obtain the basic and necessary identification documents to succeed – such as a driver’s license – once they begin trying to put their lives back together.
Because TAT Field Trainer Beth Jacobs experienced this situation herself as a survivor, and also works to help other survivors overcome the obstacles hindering them in the process of regaining proper ID, Jacobs presented to more than 120 participants at the Annual International Conference (AIC) of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) Aug. 16-18 in Virginia.
The AIC showcases the latest trends in the motor vehicle and law enforcement community and provides a forum for chief administrators to learn and grow from fellow colleagues. “AAMVA members are in a unique position to help victims of human trafficking recover their lives,” stated Anne Ferro, AAMVA president and CEO. “TAT Field Trainer Beth Jacobs educated our attendees about specific ways they can assist survivors in obtaining a proper ID.”
“I attended the human trafficking session at the AIC,” said Julie Knittle, assistant director of the Department of Licensing in Washington state, “and I would like to thank Beth for the candid presentation and sharing her personal journey. I learned a lot about how the human trafficking world operates but, more importantly, how the DMVs can assist the survivors with driver licenses and ID cards. DMVs can play an important role in assisting someone gain necessary identity documents and take an important step forward in rebuilding his or her life. Thanks again!”
Jacobs presented on the ways DMVs can work with partner agencies (social security, vital records, USCIS, Department of State, victim advocacy groups, etc.) to help survivors obtain critical identification documents and be advocates for those who need it most. She was also able to make excellent contacts at the event, which she hopes will enable TAT to broaden the base of support for survivors working on the ID process. There are currently 10 states in the nation she can connect with in regard to assisting survivors with obtaining their IDs.
“I am intimately acquainted with the struggles survivors face putting our lives back together,” commented Jacobs. “Getting these pieces of ID, like our driver’s license, are imperative if we’re to be successful. It was wonderful to see how many people within AAMVA wanted to help victims become survivors. We are off to a great start creating a system in each state to help victims change their lives.”
Freedom Drivers Project makes first appearance at National Truck Driving Championships
The Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) made its first appearance at the National Truck Driving Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana in August, thanks to an invitation from th American Trucking Association.
“We had a fantastic day connecting with associations and companies from around the country,” said Helen Van Dam, FDP director. “We trained drivers and reached safety directors who will go back and train more drivers. Thank you to everyone who came by and toured the Freedom Drivers Project. Congratulations to all of the competitors for your accomplishments and keep on truckin' on.”
A special thank you as well to TLX Transport, a division of AWL Transport, Inc. dba TLX, for hauling the Freedom Drivers Project to Indianapolis.
TAT presents at HELP Inc. board meeting
Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, and the Freedom Drivers Project, were front and center at the 2016 board meeting for HELP Inc., the oldest non-profit public/private partnership dedicated to advancing the safety and efficiency of the commercial transportation industry, when it was held in Broomfield, Colorado in August.
Representatives from both the public and private sectors (law enforcement and trucking) serve on the HELP, Inc. board of directors and play the critical role of authorizing HELP’s services, pricing and related policies, while ensuring safety and regulatory compliance.
"It was a great privilege to speak at the HELP Inc. board meeting,” Paris commented. “To be surrounded by so many high-level industry and law enforcement agencies that are already doing so much to help combat domestic sex trafficking was extremely encouraging. Not only that, TAT came away from the day with additional partners and several offers to bring the Freedom Drivers Project to board members’ home states. TAT can't thank Karen Rasmussen, and the HELP Inc board, enough for the opportunity and for our strong partnership."
HELP Inc. has supported TAT for several years, both as a silver level sponsor and by spreading the word about TAT through strategic networks. Paris spoke for 30 minutes and all board members had the opportunity to tour the Freedom Drivers Project, which was graciously driven to and from the event by CAST Transportation.
Thanks to you, TAT has completed the Change a Path matching grant challenge
In just a month’s time, thanks to the generosity of individuals and companies, donations and sponsorships TAT has completed the $25,000 Change A Path matching grant challenge. The challenge, which was to run from August through October, provides TAT with some of the necessary funding for critical programs such as coalition builds, the Freedom Drivers Project and industry training materials. Everyone at TAT so appreciates every one of you who gave.
Great American Trucking Show always a pleasure
From engaging in powerful conversations with parents of victimized children to educating newcomers to the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) with an understanding of human trafficking, the TAT team enjoyed the Great American Trucking Show (GATS) in Dallas Aug. 25-27. Thanks to all those trucking companies and owner-operators who are already training with TAT materials, to those 1000-plus people who toured the FDP or stopped by the TAT booth to take materials and to the GATS staff who put on a quality show.
TAT News from the August 2016 Newsletter
National Public Radio promotes article on trucking and Truckers Against Trafficking
National Public Radio recently promoted one of its July 13 articles, titled “Truckers Take the Wheel in Effort to Halt Sex Trafficking” by Reporter Frank Morris, into its Best of NPR category, giving it longer air time and greater visibility. Prior to writing the article, Morris interviewed Beth Jacobs, TAT field trainer and survivor/leader, as well as Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, and a host of trucking/travel plaza representatives.
As a result of this article, TAT has received quite a few e-mail inquiries and some new donations.
NPR -- Sex trafficking wasn't a major concern in the early 1980s, when Beth Jacobs was a teenager. If you were a prostitute, the thinking went, it was your choice. Jacobs thought that too, right up until she came to, on the lot of a dark truck stop one night. She says she had asked a friendly-seeming man for a ride home that afternoon. Click here to read more.
TEC Equipment joins TAT as sponsor and dealership partner
TEC Equipment, the West’s premiere, multi-point, full-service truck and trailer dealership with 23 locations throughout Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California, has become a $25,000 TAT platinum sponsor, as well as a TAT Dealership Partner (TDP). As a TDP, TEC Equipment has additionally committed to distributing TAT materials at each of its locations.
Guido Hajenius, TAT strategic coordinator, received the check from TEC Equipment Regional President Victor Salvino at a special presentation at TEC Equipment’s La Mirada location. Hajenius was impressed by the number of employees who listened intently to his remarks and wanted to take a picture with him. “This was not a publicity stunt for them,” he stated. “They were proud to know how this sponsorship was making a difference in helping to save peoples’ lives. The TAT Dealership Partner program allows companies like TEC to not just financially sponsor the work TAT does, but to spread awareness and distribute TAT materials through the stores to other truck drivers,”
“We chose TAT, because it’s part of our industry and supported by our State Trucking Association and several large Industry suppliers, including Volvo Trucks,” stated Georgia Field, office manager for TEC Equipment. “We know the severity of the problem and want to help.”
Freedom Drivers Project makes first appearance at the Iowa 80 Walcott Truckers Jamboree
The Freedom Drivers Project (FDP), with TAT Programs Coordinator Michelle Bishop managing the exhibit, welcomed more than 1,000 people through its doors at the 37th annual Iowa 80 Walcott Truckers Jamboree, July 13-15. Volunteers from the Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement (MVE) division helped Bishop with the exhibit, by working both inside and outside TAT’s traveling museum, inviting people to tour, helping people digest what they were seeing and reading, as well as answering any questions they had.
Bishop reported that many people departed the FDP with in-depth questions to gain a better understanding of how trafficking happens and how to spot it. “They were amazed,” she said, “that trafficking happens in our country and that it happens as prolifically as it does. They were also happy there was a way to actively get involved. I had many people come and tell me stories about how they have already helped a victim and thanked us for what we do.”
Ohio law enforcement, transportation leaders continue united front in fighting human trafficking
Two significant events took place in Ohio at the end of June and the beginning of July that will significantly impact the fight against human trafficking.
On July 1, Ohio became the first state in the Union to begin TAT training as a compulsory portion of the curriculum for entry-level CDL licensing. In response to this action, a number of other states are also looking to see if they can institute a similar mandate in their CDL training.
Prior to that, at the end of June, Captain Mike Crispen of Licensing and Commercial Standards for the Ohio State Highway Patrol held his second annual transportation coalition meeting in Columbus with more than 60 participants from the trucking/travel plaza industry, law enforcement, transportation leaders and anti-human trafficking coalition members.
They not only discussed successes from 2015, which Capt. Crispen reports have contributed to a 32-percent increase in calls from Ohio to the National Human Trafficking hotline and 125 additional cases, but they decided on action items for the 2016-2017 year to include:
· Identify ways the coalition can provide help to threatened families of victims
· Raise awareness among hotel industry and provide training
· Target rural communities
o Trade shows
o County fairs
o Distribute TAT/awareness flyers to hotel staff
· Identify solutions to housing for victims
· Provide in-depth training to law enforcement
· Find ways to drive the TAT and awareness/prevention message to the youth
“The industry wanted to continue to educate new hires,” Crispen said, “and suggested ending every meeting at work with a specific trafficking message (TAT videos), and place posters on trailers. Ohio State Patrol provided window clings for cars and posters for trailers which were taken by the members to display on their personal cars and place on their trucks.”
Crispen said participants also discussed identifying or creating a program to help educate and, subsequently, prevent young people from getting caught up in the human trafficking world. This information would be provided to drivers to take home to their families and spread the word. Participants would also use their personal social sites to do the same.
Beth Jacobs, TAT’s field trainer and a survivor/leader, provided a training at the meeting. “The questions from the audience were voluminous,” Crispen reported, “and had to be ended to move to the next agenda. Everyone was very appreciative of the training, and the law enforcement officers stated they really learned a lot about how the victims think and why they act around them the way they do. This training will allow them to adjust their interactions to gain their (the survivor’s) confidence and/or ensure there is a coalition member with them during the interactions. One said he never really saw the world from their point of view and that it really opened his eyes. Another said all officers need to hear this. The coalition members were very interested in how Beth utilized resources and why or why not. I think this was enlightening to them to help direct their resources appropriately.”
As a result of the meeting, participants will continue to spread the TAT message through training and awareness; they will look to coalition members to work with law enforcement and task forces to interview victims; and they hope their efforts result in double the percentage of calls in the next year.
Jacobs and TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier will conduct another law enforcement training in Olathe, Kansas on Aug. 3.
Double your donation: Accept the Change a Path matching grant challenge
Between August and October, Change a Path (CAP), an organization providing financial grants to support not-for-profit organizations working in the sex-trafficking space, is providing a $25,000 matching grant challenge to TAT. For every dollar donated to TAT during those three months, Change a Path will match the amount given, up to $25,000.
“As our model works to bring funders and supporters together to maximize our impact, we are offering TAT a matching grant opportunity to expand its fundraising potential,” said Shannon Rogers, CAP founder. “In (this) our second grant to TAT, we hope to broaden the impact of our giving by encouraging TAT's friends, partners and supporters to join this giving campaign. TAT is committed to addressing a challenging problem that requires community and business engagement; we all need to work together to support them in their efforts. Together we can make a difference.”
In 2015, Change a Path provided a $25,000 grant to TAT for its coalition builds.
Visit TAT at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas
Checking out all the great exhibits at the Great American Trucking Show (GATS) in Dallas this year, Aug. 25-27? Visit TAT at Booth 21098 at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center. Come say hello, tour the Freedom Drivers Project and learn how you can play your part in combating domestic sex trafficking as part of your everyday job.
TAT News from the July 2016 Newsletter
TAT releases new, inspirational video
In a short six minutes, Con-way Truckload driver Kevin Kimmel details his experience with human trafficking while resting at a truck stop in Virginia. He shares what made him suspicious that something was wrong with the activity of inhabitants in a vehicle with blacked-out windows which had pulled back by the lines of quiet trucks and what happened after he called for law enforcement help. The video also shares the transformation that takes place in the lives of survivors once they’re recovered from a life of slavery by giving a glimpse into the impact a number of survivors are making with their lives now that they’re free.
“Kevin’s story demonstrates the reality that we are all change makers,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, “and the power of taking a second look and getting involved. We wanted to create a video to inspire people, to help them understand that the choices they make can really unlock the pathway to freedom for someone who is being enslaved.”
The video can be viewed on the TAT website by clicking here.
Tajuan McCarty said, “During the time I was trafficked, I didn't have a voice. I couldn't speak for myself and no one looked at me as a person, I was only a commodity. To be able to speak now and help TAT raise awareness honors my past pain, and I pray helps others to see our pain, realizing we are worthy of more than being bought and sold.”
Beth Jacobs commented, “Survivor leadership is imperative in this movement. Our voices must be heard, our expertise and experience acknowledged. Truckers Against Trafficking embraces that responsibly by providing a platform to give our input while amplifying the survivor voice. I am proud to represent TAT as I strive to educate and create positive changes in our world.”
Tanya Street expressed, “I want survivors and non survivors alike to know what it's like to become whole, to dream again, and to know what it means to love and to be loved. Healing is a process and not an impossible journey, although a difficult one. Humanity is able to heal itself if we stand together. My journey was helped through the support of organizations like TAT who supported me and encouraged me to continue even in the face of disappointments. TAT showed me there is hope, and they’re willing to do what is necessary to do their part. They have brought a standard of excellence to the movement, and I am grateful to be a part of it. Thank you TAT!!”
Dorsey Laquan Cook shared, “Survivors are more than just a story. We are powerful, brave warriors that are blessed to pull our sisters out of darkness and help them to heal and understand the power they have within. We are the voice for the voiceless.”
Florida Trucking Association ‘walks the talk’ in TAT support
Although Dr. Ken Armstrong, president and CEO of the Florida Trucking Association (FTA), had a general knowledge of human trafficking, it was in 2014 when he met Scott Perry, vice president of supply management at Ryder and a member of TAT’s board of directors, that the issue took on greater urgency for him.
“Scott was so passionate and persuasive that I knew we had to do something special,” Armstrong said. “My first tangible action was to invite Scott to be one of our key presenters for the board of directors’ meeting at our annual conference. I also alerted our executive committee that I hoped, following Scott’s speech, FTA would vote to formally endorse TAT and become an official partner. They liked the idea of FTA formally going ‘on the record,’ and sure enough, a motion was made and passed unanimously.”
A veteran of the non-profit sector in his 25-plus-year career and a man who has led four different organizations as CEO, Armstrong believes one of the crucial functions of an association is advocacy. “Ordinarily, we think of that voice being used on behalf of the members — toward regulators, legislators, or the general public,” he said. “But used exclusively in that way, the voice is only self-motivated. We can and should use those same muscles on behalf of something beyond and bigger than ourselves. Human trafficking is hateful. The perpetrators are loathsome and evil. The trucking community has the wherewithal to make a difference. It’s not okay with FTA for us, our members, our drivers to remain neutral or silent on modern-day slavery. We can do something, and we are committed to becoming an obstacle for human traffickers. I want FTA to stand for what is right and positive about our highways and our people.”
To that end, Armstrong uses his position to influence and include TAT wherever and whenever possible. “That means that, when we hold a charity golf tournament, we can encourage the committee to designate TAT as a recipient,” he explained, “or when we are identifying items for the Road Team to get involved in, we can underline TAT and do ‘train the trainer.’ In specific terms, we can ‘schedule’ TAT into FTA activities. TAT has presented at FTA events, been a special guest at our Spring Round-Up and been a focal point at the Truck Driving Championships. We mention TAT from the stage, introduce TAT to decision makers, and share raffle proceeds with TAT. People know that, when FTA talks about partnerships and causes, TAT is always going to come up.”
While he praises TAT for its follow-through, availability and ability to “partner well,” Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director, directs the kudos back to FTA, “To have a partner like the FTA, and the incredible backing of its leadership is really a dream. At every event I have been to for the FTA, it is as if I were part of the family rather than the visitor. The inclusiveness and ‘all in’ attitude of this partnership, which includes the enthusiastic encouragement to their member companies to join forces with TAT, has resulted in companies training their drivers, dealers and manufacturers using their influence to spread the word about TAT to their audiences, and financial support of TAT's mission. It has been said that attitude reflects leadership, and I believe that to be true in the case of the Florida Trucking Association. I cannot say enough about them.”
Combined events for law enforcement, trucking work to strengthen relationship
When trucking and law enforcement work closely together, there is not only greater safety on the roads, but, when it comes to human traffickers, they pose a combined threat to this criminal activity.
In Washington state, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and the Washington Trucking Association (WTA) have held their annual Truck Driving Championships and Washington State Inspectors Challenge as a combined event for 19 years. This year, Truckers Against Trafficking was invited to attend the June 18 event in Kent, Washington.
“The Washington State Inspector’s Challenge is a great example of how law enforcement and the commercial vehicle industry partner together to acknowledge their employees who perform at a high level in their respective careers,” said Asst. Capt. Jason Berry of the WSP. “This year a special relationship was formed between the Washington State Patrol and Truckers Against Trafficking in an effort to educate drivers on what they can do to combat human trafficking. It is our hope that this partnership will flourish here in Washington state, so we can put an end to these horrific crimes happening here in the United States and around the world.”
In recent months, TAT has had the opportunity to train members of the WSP on human trafficking and the importance of working with the trucking industry. One of the results from this training is that the WSP has implemented parts of the Iowa MVE model and hopes to have a TAT coalition build in the state in the future.
At this event, Michelle Bishop, TAT programs coordinator, further solidified the relationship/partnership between the WTA and WSP on the issue of human trafficking by addressing drivers on how to get involved, showing them the new Kevin Kimmel video and then addressing the whole crowd. “Not only was I able to deepen our relationship with members of the state patrol,” she said, “but I got to educate them a little more on how to engage the trucking industry on this issue. I was also able to speak with many members/drivers from the Washington trucking community about getting trained, training their fleet, or taking info back to their safety directors to consider implementing.”
TAT News from the June 2016 Newsletter
Freedom Drivers Project continues to be popular exhibit across the country
From trucking events to TAT coalition builds, state fairs and anti-trafficking events hosted by government officials and others, the Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) continues to make an impact and change lives and hearts with its information on domestic sex trafficking and what the trucking industry is doing to fight it.
Most recently, the FDP was parked in front of the capitol building in Albany, New York for the New York State Motor Association’s Trucking Moves NY: Day at the Capitol. “It was a fantastic day to make connections with trucking, law enforcement and legislators,” commented Helen Van Dam, FDP director. “We’re looking forward to training more drivers and law enforcement in New York in the months to come!”
Earlier this year, one of the FDP’s stops was at Boyd Brothers Transportation in Birmingham, Alabama. The company hosted the trailer to further educate its employees on the role the trucking industry plays in combating human trafficking. They already have all employees going through TAT training and have TAT decals on all their trucks.
Company driver Mike Usery, a Boyd Brothers employee for 26 years who has driven over three million safe miles, picked up the FDP trailer in Gulf Port, Mississippi in his company truck and hauled it to Boyd Brothers in Clayton, Alabama before bringing it to the headquarters in Birmingham. He then took it to Georgia Truck Driving Championship.
“It’s truly been an honor to pull this trailer and be part of something this special,” he said. “There are people out there that don’t know about this, that it’s really going on. It needs to get out there, so it’s truly been an honor to be a part of this.”
In 2016 alone, the FDP has already been driven 15,148 miles to 17 events in 13 states and been toured by 4,906 people. Its summer schedule is hectic, including four events in June alone in Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois and Colorado. Then it will head to Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, back to Colorado and down to Dallas for the Great American Trucking Show Aug. 25-27.
None of this travel would be possible without the help of those companies who have donated hauls and often volunteered to help TAT man the exhibit as well. These include, in 2016 alone, MJ Tank Lines, Walmart, Central Tech, Twin Eagle, CAST Transportation, Knight Transportation-Las Vegas, Total Transportation of Mississippi and Boyd Bros.
And a shout-out as well to the sponsors who keep TAT and the FDP on the road:
Field Trainer and Survivor Leader Beth Jacobs presented Courage Award
Beth Jacobs, TAT’s field trainer and a survivor leader, was honored with the Courage Award at the 18th annual From Slavery to Freedom Gala hosted by the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) in Los Angeles, California on May 10. This annual event brings together survivors, celebrities, civic leaders and socially-conscious entrepreneurs for the cause of ending modern slavery.
Jacobs, the founder of Willow Way, a support group empowering victims of trafficking, is well known nationally for her public policy work to help survivors clear their records and obtain the necessary legal/documentation support to succeed in their lives after recovery from trafficking.
In addition to her presentation at a coalition build in Tyler, Texas on June 7, Jacobs will be sharing her experiences as a trafficking victim and discussing techniques for interacting with and interviewing the suspected human trafficking victim at Ohio State Patrol’s Transportation Coalition meeting on June 27 in Columbus, Ohio.
This is the second annual Transportation Coalition meeting hosted by OSP. The theme of this year’s meeting will be how the Department of Public Safety/Ohio State Patrol can help transportation industry members in Ohio accomplish their goals in fighting human trafficking -- what do they need from OSP, and what do they expect from this coalition. The meeting will also include a brief overview of the successes from the past year and subcommittee work to plan for the coming year.
More states adopting the Iowa MVE model
In recent months, following increased presentations to law enforcement and DOT officials, more states have adopted TAT’s Iowa MVE model, either fully or in part, bringing the total number of states using this model to 22. Iowa, Ohio and Michigan have all adopted it fully, and the other states have adopted parts of the model.
“Once TAT is able to get the IA MVE model in front of decision makers in a state, adoption and implementation seem to follow rapidly,” Kendis Paris, TAT executive director, said. “We are extremely encouraged to see ‘often overlooked’ agencies in the fight against human trafficking become activated upon understanding the critical role their office can play."
The Iowa MVE model, which was created by Chief David Lorenzen and his staff at the Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement in 2013, helps law enforcement mobilize the trucking industry in their state by following these steps:
· Train Motor Vehicle Enforcement or law enforcement officers with TAT materials.
· Stock weigh stations, ports of entry and rest areas with TAT materials.
· Visit truck stops with TAT materials, urging them to train employees and distribute.
· Implement TAT Training as part of mandatory safety compliance meetings within
· Spread awareness about TAT via multiple channels—website, Truck Information Guide,
state fair, Road Check, etc.
· Use influence to spread the word about TAT to trucking (and other) agencies (i.e. DIAP,
CVSA, AAMVA, motor coach industry, driver services staff, etc.).
· Incorporate TAT training DVD and wallet cards into all programs that MVE builds (law
enforcement, service clubs, motor carrier industry).
· Use asset forfeiture funds to pay for TAT materials.
· Join the NHTRC law enforcement network.
· Introduce Truckers Against Trafficking to your state trucking association.
· Ensure that every CDL issued (or renewed) is accompanied with a TAT wallet card.
· Mandate TAT training for entry-level CDL curriculum statewide.
· Begin collecting data of interdiction stops that lead to human trafficking investigations.
Survivor’s Ink helps survivors reclaim their bodies
Branding, burning and scarring are all marks purposely left by traffickers and abusers on the bodies of their victims to remind them that they’re “property,” owned by someone other than themselves. Brandings propagate psychological enslavement for survivors, serving as constant reminders of the violence they’ve suffered.
Jennifer Kempton, founder and director of Survivor’s Ink, joined TAT on the Dave Nemo Show, Sirius XM Radio, on May 10 to discuss branding and what her organization does to reverse the hold those marks have on victims. Survivor’s Ink works to empower survivors to break those psychological chains by reclaiming their bodies through the beautification, removal or covering of their physical scars, markings and brandings. This de-branding experience enables the victim, now a survivor, to reclaim his or her body and stand up against the trafficker.
Kempton’s website says, “We strive to provide the most memorable experience possible for these survivors to reclaim their bodies. The initial branding was not obtained by choice, so we ensure the survivors work hand in hand with the artist to obtain a tattoo of their personal choosing. We provide transportation, meals, occasional personal necessities, as well as continued support through resources and our survivors’ network.”
They do this by forming partnerships with specific, screened tattoo artists anywhere possible to make it easier for survivors around the world to obtain services near them. These artists are required to abide by a specific standard of quality and behavior to ensure the survivors are properly cared for and not exposed to any further exploitation.
Kempton explains that the most common brands they see are dollar signs, names, hearts with an initial and typical gang insignia. She asks members of the trucking industry to be particularly observant of tattoos and on the alert should they see these types of “brands” on girls/ boys or women wherever they travel.
“I love being a part of the journey of enabling survivors to reclaim their bodies,” she explained. “When you throw in our street outreach in addition to that, and being able to help currently enslaved victims gain the ability to escape or just give them hope, what I do is only made more rewarding. And then, probably the best part of what we do is the prevention education we’re doing in schools to keep our youth from falling victim in the first place. I absolutely love what I do. It gives my life and the horror I suffered as a slave an amazing purpose!”
TAT News from the May 2016 Newsletter AAMVA webinar critical first step in helping survivors recover driver’s license
Many people often want to help fight human trafficking but have no idea how their lives or jobs could intersect with victims in order to do so. To help employees at DMVs across the nation understand how they can aid in the fight, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) hosted a webinar in April with TAT staff members Kylla Lanier, deputy director, and Beth Jacobs, survivor leader and field trainer, participating.
Victims of human trafficking have trouble re-establishing themselves in society under their true identity, as they often lack proper identification to obtain a government-issued driver’s license. The webinar’s goal was to help establish a point of contact in every DMV across the nation that survivors could access to assist with their special circumstances in recovery of a driver’s license.
“I am motivated to encourage DMVs to become more proactive to assist in the obtaining of identification for victims of trafficking for the very reason I chose to be a law enforcement officer,” said Paul Steier, director of the Bureau of Investigation and Identity Protection for the Iowa Department of Transportation. “That is to help and empower people who have been hurt, bullied, and taken advantage of. The victims of trafficking have been through so many struggles and to take part in creating an atmosphere across our Nation to help them turn their lives around is inspiring, rewarding, and humbling.”
Some victims come from families where they were never given proper identification, and others had their identification papers taken by their trafficker. Because victims may lack proper identification, they may not be able to obtain legitimate employment or qualify for government benefits; they may be prohibited from opening bank accounts, obtaining loans or even gain housing. This may make it impossible for victims to turn their lives around, resulting in the tragedy of a return to their previous lifestyle.
"ID is the key to a better life,” stated Jacobs. “One needs this key to access housing, employment, healthcare, and education. Identification will bring total freedom. Getting out is the easy part; putting your life back together is where we need the support, choices, and options."
If you suspect trafficking, don’t just tell someone … MAKE THE CALL
When you suspect human trafficking, it’s imperative that you call the hotline versus hoping someone else makes the call for you. A professional driver saw a young girl, around 11 years old, being sold for sex by her mother. Instead of calling the authorities, he told the manager of the store, who ended up not calling, because he hadn't seen it himself.
“We don't know what happened to that young victim or her mother, and that is devastating,” commented Kylla Lanier, TAT deputy director. The National Human Trafficking Hotline – 1-888-3737-888 -- and law enforcement want to hear from the person seeing the trafficking ... not a third party.
If you suspect trafficking, you have critical information that can help in the recovery of a trafficking victim. Share that information with the authorities. You can remain anonymous, but please call and tell them what you see. A life could truly depend on it. Don't hesitate, and don't hope for someone else to make the call ... make the call, save lives!