We see it on the news every week. Somebody disappears -- maybe for a short time, maybe for a long time, maybe forever. Often, they are victims of human trafficking -- modern-day slavery of global proportions. RTA and other public transit agencies are committed to raising awareness of the problem, and joining in the fight to eliminate it.
If you are reading this, then you share RTA's concern about this growing problem. Thanks for taking the first step.
Keeping Clevelanders safe has long been one of RTA's primary concerns.
- Transit Police are on duty 24/7. Call them at 216-566-5163.
- RTA's new iWatch program is a free app that allows customers to communicate with Transit Police anonymously. The app is available on iPhone and Droid. You can send texts, emails, photos and video. Don't have a smartphone? Call or text the non-emergency Transit Police line, 216-575-3937.
- Safe Place makes every bus and train a refuge for youths seeking help. RTA helps them find trained counselors who can assist them. The human trafficking campaign "is the next level of outreach," says RTA CEO Joe Calabrese.
Human trafficking -- modern-day slavery -- is a crime and a civil rights abuse that affects millions of men, women and children from around the world. Force, fraud or coerecion is used to compel someone into labor servitude or commercial sexual exploitation, Every minor exploited for commercial sex is a victim of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a hidden crime. The first step to combating it is to identify victims, so they can be rescued and help bring their perpetrators to justice.
President Barack Obama called the fight against human trafficking "one of the great human righrts causes of our time." He directed the departments of Transportation, Homeland Security and Justice to lead the national effort.
The Department of Transportation responded by training 55,000 employees and 20,000 contractors, and urged all transportation agencies to get involved. The transportation sector is key because its workers are on the front lines of spotting and reporting the problem. The DOT plan covers 5 key areas:
- Industry leadership
- Education and training
- Public awareness
- Policy development
- Information sharing and analysis
On May 14, 2013, the RTA Board voted to endorse this effort. RTA leaders signed a pledge that committed the agency to:
- Take a stand against human trafficking.
- Educate employees on how to recognize and report the signs of human trafficking.
- Raise awareness among the traveling public on human trafficking issues by utiilizing common messaging in targeted outreach campaigns.
- Measure the collective impact on human trafficking by and sharing key data points.
More than 100 Transit Police have already been trained in spotting the indicators of human trafficking, such as people who do not have identification, those who have been coached in talking to police officers, or those who have been denied freedom of movement.
RTA immediately began awareness training for more than 2,100 employees.
Soon, you will see informational signs about human trafficking in RTA stations and on vehicles.
-- Board President George F. Dixon III and CEO/General Manager Joe Calabrese