Are Sentries of the Road: Truckers Against Trafficking Members Help Those in Need
Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world, affecting millions each year. While movies like ‘Taken,’ featuring Liam Neeson, may have us thinking it only happens overseas, the issue continues to grow here at an alarming rate. That’s why it’s important to identify warning signs and “red flags,” so we can help those who are being abused or enslaved and bring justice to those responsible.
Considered the eyes of the highway, truck drivers have an enormous opportunity to observe and report suspicious activity on the road and in truck stops. They have the ability to keep highways and communities safer. To take advantage of the millions of drivers operating throughout the U.S. and Canada, in 2009, the Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) organization was founded to help save the lives of those being trafficked.
It’s estimated that human trafficking is a $32 billion industry in the United States alone. It takes a trained eye to spot potential cases because most of the time, victims don’t let on that they are in trouble because of fear their trafficker will hurt them. The other part of the equation is taking action. Again, that’s where the TAT training comes in.
TAT began as an initiative of Chapter 61 Ministries, a non-profit that seeks to stop sex trafficking and bring public awareness to the issue, as well as restore hope to the victims. In two years, TAT quickly grew and became its own non-profit organization seeking to accomplish the same goals throughout the trucking industry.
TAT offers a lot of programs that are dedicated towards ending sex trafficking, though its main focus is training drivers, and truck company employees, to identify suspicious behavior that could result in a trafficking case as well as how to report the activity.
The great news is this program is growing. It now has over 622,000 people in the trucking industry TAT trained. That’s a lot of eyes and ears helping to fight a problem. And it’s working. Registered members have helped identify 1,123 victims and of those, 606 cases were generated.
This organization has made such an impact that the Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement model was created to help the trucking industry in its fight against human trafficking. So far, 35 states have adopted this model in part or in whole. Of the 35 states, six have now made it mandatory that entry-level CDL holders must be TAT trained, with other states looking to follow.
With more states adopting this model, coverage from TAT registered members will only continue to grow, which will make more of an impact each year.
To help spread its message, TAT provides drivers with stickers and other items to put on their truck to let those around know that they are a registered member of TAT. This also opens discussions with other drivers who might not know about the program.
Running the program doesn’t come cheap, and many in the industry have stepped up with financial support. Last year, Inland Kenworth, out of Phoenix, auctioned off a special edition Kenworth T680. The truck, called the ‘Everyday Heroes Truck’ featured TAT’s logo, as well as a number to report suspected trafficking cases. The program was the brainchild of Don Blake, Inland Kenworth’s new truck sales manager in the Phoenix area. Proceeds from the auction all went to TAT. Blake also serves as Board of Directors for TAT and plans to host another auction to support TAT this year.
Organizations like TAT are making a difference, but it’s a continual battle. If you spot something, say something. Reporting suspicious activity has the ability to change — even save — someone’s life.
We encourage you to get TAT trained, make a difference…here’s where you can learn more.