One of the challenges of running an organization like the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association is determining where to set up boundaries as to what the association will get involved with. Law enforcement and trucking are both complex and have vast amounts of side projects. They are all worthy and need attention, but it’s impossible to be everything to everyone.
In the fall of 2011, the ITEA became aware of an non-profit organization called Truckers Against Trafficking. TAT has a mission to combat human trafficking (HT) through education of the trucking industry. The model of TAT was inspiring to the ITEA, as it became readily apparent HT education for local and state law enforcement in Illinois was barely noticeable. That is about to change.
On February 15th, 2013, the ITEA, along with TAT, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Mid-west Truckers Association, the Illinois Trucking Association, Harper College Law Enforcement & Justice Administration, and the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy will partner together to host the first ever Human Trafficking Conference for Law Enforcement. This one-day, 8-hour class is totally FREE and will be hosted at Harper College in Palatine, IL. There is no cost for a reason…there is no motive for participating other than to raise awareness and education for law enforcement. Sometimes fees for events mean someone is trying to capitalize on a cause. Not the case here. The motive of all these groups participating is pure.
Second only to drug trafficking, human trafficking is the second biggest moneymaker in the world. The vast majority of victims enslaved are females, some as young as 12 years old. Let’s not kid ourselves. This is not a foreign problem. Young girls and women trafficked in the United States are not all imported here. Girls are scooped off the streets of our nation. Men sell their own families into slavery. It’s disgusting. Watch this video produced by TAT…this could be your daughter. This could be your wife. This could be your mother.
The private sector has begun to mobilize behind large scale federal and international efforts. In 2011, Google donated nearly $12MM to the cause. Grass roots organizations like TAT have sprung up to fight HT on specific battlefronts. The US Departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security, Health & Human Services all have programs to fight HT. What are the states doing? What is local law enforcement doing?
Many times training classes for local and state law enforcement offer classes about niche topics. While interesting and educational, the fact is the majority of street cops will rarely have a chance to employ the training. Human trafficking is not a whole lot different…except it is. Most local towns do not have problems with sex trafficking out in the open on the street. It is hidden. ..but it is alive and well in your community. The backpage ads, the chat rooms, the dating websites, and the porn industry are built on girls in slavery. This is not “Pretty Woman”. This is not choice-driven prostitution to earn money for college. This is not garden variety vice. This is abuse. This is modern day slavery. This is an unconscionable crime against humanity.
There is no percentage in laws if there is not enforcement to support them. Local and state police agencies need to change the perspective on sex crimes. Our awareness is low. Our training is low. Our compassion is low. The time has come to ramp up how we respond and pro-actively root this out of our communities. The time has come for conviction. This is why we wear a badge.
It starts with you signing up for free training. It does not matter if you are sworn or civilian, if you are administration or on the road, or what your assignment is. It is time to fight.
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