Ohio First to Require Truckers Against Trafficking Training
Soon, Ohio will be the first state to require all CDL drivers to undergo a Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) training session as part of their mandated education. The changes will be implemented next year for all drivers getting their CDL for the first time and for those renewing their licenses. The goal of the one hour training program is to make drivers aware of the trafficking issue and train them to be ever alert and vigilant in watching for potential victims. Lt. William Bowers of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said, ” The more eyes we get out there, the better off we’re going to be.”
The training will consist of several key points for truckers to watch for. “Looking for different signs, whether it be prostitution in the truck plaza, submissive individuals, unordinary submissive individuals that they may see at a gas station, rest area, or something like that,” said Bowers. Drivers will learn to what clues to watch for that could help assist with investigations. Some highly populated areas, like Toledo, see thousands of drivers pass through their city daily, making ideal spots for those trying to exploit the victims of human trafficking.
“It’s no secret that rest areas, plazas, and truck stops have been the site of human trafficking and prostitution. So it just makes sense we notify those people that are going through those locations or there visiting those locations on a regular basis,” said Bowers. Training truck drivers on what to look for can be a valuable tool in the fight against human trafficking because they are in one of the best positions to see such crimes. “These people are out there, they’re not in uniforms, they look like the everyday Joe. But someone may not realize that they’ve gone through this training and they’re able to recognize the signs of human trafficking and they’re able to alert law enforcement of that,” said Bowers.
In late 2012, TravelCenters of America made the move to include a video made by Truckers Against Trafficking about the victims of the child sex trade into their employee training. At the time, all of their 20,000 employees watched the video and learned the story of a young woman, who was kidnapped at age 15 along with her cousin and forced into prostitution at truck stops. When a trucker in
Detroit saw the girls and what was happening, he called police and they were rescued from a prostitution ring that covered 14 states.
Rodney Jennings, a long haul trucker, had seen children at trucks stops and decided to take action. Children were “getting in and out of trucks, just going from one truck to another. And I think it’s disgusting,” Jennings said. “I bought a dash cam so I can videotape it and turn it over to the authorities.” When he told the TravelCenter stop in London, Ohio what he has been seeing, they joined his efforts by papering all of their sites across the country with fliers detailing the dangers of human trafficking that children face and what sign to look for.
Rodney Bresnahan, Store Operations Manager for TravelCenters at the time said, “We’re looking for young children, girls or boys, maybe traveling with somebody that doesn’t look like a relative or a parent. They may look withdrawn, or scared. We really want them to contact the local authorities, or the 1-800 number of Truckers Against Trafficking.” It’s not just truck stops that set the stage for these crimes. Other well traveled locations like airports, railroad and ship yards are also hot spots. But because truck drivers drive from state to state across borders, they can be the eyes and ears of local law enforcement. “We can make an impact here,’ Bresnahan said.
Human trafficking organizations and advocacy groups hope that other states will follow suit and begin to require TAT training as well. If every CDL holder in the U.S. were to be educated on the dangers and signs of human trafficking, we could bring more victims home and bring more criminals to justice.