January 25, 2023
Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives, National Association of Convenience Stores
Senior Director of Programs & Strategic Initiatives, Truckers Against Trafficking
Communications Manager, Amtrak Police Department
Global Head of Women's Safety Policy, Uber
Senior Adviser, Blue Campaign, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
During the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Fighting Human Trafficking in the Transportation Sector event, experts discussed partnerships to combat human trafficking. From educational programs to strategic messaging, such initiatives inform the public about trafficking indicators and provide resources to victims.
Education in Detecting Human Trafficking Situations Leads to Empowerment
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) provides awareness training and resources to truck drivers. Annie Sovcik, senior director of programs & strategic Initiatives at TAT, said that it is critical to educate workers in the ground transportation industry on the warning signs of human trafficking and what to do if they witness this crime.
According to Sovcik, “Time and time again, what we’ve seen at Truckers Against Trafficking is that when drivers know what to look for and how to report this crime, they can serve as an extra set of eyes and ears.”
Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives at the National Association of Convenience Stores, noted that awareness posters in convenience store restrooms recognize the importance of a victims-centered approach.
“When people are being trafficked, there is a feeling of loneliness—a feeling that no one cares,” Lenard said. “Even if they’re still in that situation, if they see people care through the repetition of messaging, that can go a long way toward getting them in a better place.”
Effective Programs and Partnerships Impact Human Trafficking
Amtrak has partnered with the Safe Place Network, The A21 Campaign, and United Against Slavery to educate employees as well as travelers on trafficking indicators.
James Lewis, communications manager at the Amtrak Police Department, said that these partnerships complement Amtrak’s relationships with federal, state, and local law enforcement by providing instructions that “if you see something, say something.”
He said that people may misreport trafficking but that “the biggest thing we need to get over is the fear of being wrong. Some people tend not to report because they may be wrong. But that’s something that should never be considered.”
Ridesharing Services Are Combating Human Trafficking Through Training
Uber, a ridesharing service, averages 21 million rides a day globally and is responsible for ensuring the safety of its riders through driver education.
From college campuses to airports and major transit hubs, ridesharing services have a particular opportunity to assist victims.
“Uber uses experts to develop tailored educational materials for our platform users to identify human trafficking, how it may show up, and what to do if they hear or see something suspicious,” said Elise Maiolino, global head of Women's Safety Policy at Uber.