Tuesday, January 09, 2018

PennDOT aims to put the brakes on human trafficking

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PennDOT aims to put the brakes on human trafficking File photo/SEPTA

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced Jan. 9 that it has signed the U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking pledge.



PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards encouraged the public to take part in the national #WearBlueDay initiative on Jan. 11, the National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness.

With January highlighted as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, Richards offered an update on the department's Governor's Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management and Efficiency (GO-TIME) project, which she said entails training thousands of PennDOT and transit-agency employees to identify the indicators of human trafficking.

"Joining this nationwide initiative will help us continue to share resources and best practices in Pennsylvania and across the country," Richards said. "We are just beginning to scratch the surface on how serious this problem is, and we're committed to doing everything we can to 'put the brakes' on it."

A partnership with the Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association has also enabled every transit agency director in the state to receive training, PennDOT said, and a goal remains to have all of the nearly 15,000 transit agency employees statewide trained by July 1, 2018.

PennDOT developed the training in partnership with the Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, and Truckers against Trafficking. The online-based training is also available to the rest of PennDOT's employees.

PennDOT is also providing wallet cards that contain information regarding how to report a tip to law enforcement when an individual suspects that instances of human trafficking might be taking place.

As reported by RT&S in December, USDOT has been working to end human trafficking by spreading awareness of the issue among transportation industry leaders, stakeholders and the public, as well as by creating new tools and resources. So far, USDOT has also expressed progress working with Amtrak toward this goal.

Human trafficking instances can also be reported​ to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at 1-866-347-2423.