In recognition of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), Attorney General Ashley Moody, Florida Trucking Association, and Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) put a spotlight on Tuesday, January 11, on human trafficking – a crime that often hides in plain sight – and the critical role Florida’s trucking and law enforcement professionals play in combating it.
Florida’s Highway Heroes initiative is an ongoing outreach campaign that was launched in October 2020 to train Florida’s half a million licensed commercial drivers on how to identify and report suspected human trafficking. Florida’s commercial drivers are uniquely positioned to make a difference and close loopholes to traffickers who look to use transportation systems for their personal gain. Since the launch of the initiative, FLHSMV has trained nearly 4,600 licensed commercial drivers and nearly 400 FHP members through TAT on how to identify and report suspected trafficking.
“Florida’s 12,000 miles of highway and growing economy present residents and visitors to our state with many opportunities to travel for work and leisure. And while our expansive highway system affords us so much, criminals target our state and exploit our highways to traffic women, men, and children,” said FLHSMV Executive Director, Terry L. Rhodes.“Through our Highway Heroes program, we have enlisted thousands of trucking industry and law enforcement professionals in Florida who are committed to serving as the eyes and ears of our highways. We are grateful for them, and safer because of them.”
FLHSMV’s division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) will be participating in the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) three-day Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative, from Jan. 11 to Jan. 13. As part of the initiative, FHP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (CVE) Troopers will be focusing on engaging with commercial motor vehicle drivers by handing out Truckers Against Trafficking’s (TAT) informational wallet cards during roadside inspections and enforcement stops across the state.
“The Florida Highway Patrol is committed to doing everything possible to interrupt and combat human trafficking across our state and on our highway system,” said Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “FHP troopers are trained to identify indicators of human trafficking, and to investigate potential trafficking situations with the intent of apprehending those criminals who take advantage of our vulnerable population while treating all victims with dignity and respect, and never as criminals or perpetrators.”
TAT Deputy Director Kylla Lanier said, "We are very appreciative of the continued efforts of FLHSMV, the Office of the Florida Attorney General, and the Florida Highway Patrol in the fight against human trafficking throughout the state of Florida. The more awareness is raised, the more calls will be made to law enforcement, and lives will be saved. The Highway Heroes initiative recognizes the valuable role the commercial vehicle industry plays in combating this crime, and we look forward to its continued success."
“Florida Trucking Association has long been committed to the fight against human trafficking, and we are proud to join forces with FLHSMV, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Florida Highway Patrol, and Truckers Against Trafficking on the Highway Heroes initiative,” said Alix Miller, president, and CEO of Florida Trucking Association. “As the eyes and ears of Florida’s roadways, professional truck drivers play a pivotal role in combating this horrific crime, saving lives, and making Florida a stronger, safer place.”
When calling to report suspected human trafficking, law enforcement needs actionable information to assist them including:
The National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
The U.S. Department of Justice Hotline: 1-888-428-7581
Florida Abuse Hotline: 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873)
Local Authorities: 911 or *FHP (*347)
For more information on the Highway Heroes initiative, including access to the TAT training, please visit the FLHSMV Highway Heroes website.
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