Walking the Talk

Human trafficking is a critical community issue that has become the abolitionist movement of the 21st Century. It is time for everyone to move beyond declarations.

What You Can Do

  1. Gather information in your community: What is the nature of the problem? Local data is a powerful tool. Design your action plan and training around the problem in your community.
  2. Create a resource directory that includes international, national, state, and local organizations focused on human trafficking—a simple web search will produce a number of links. To start with, refer to the Polaris Project for state-by-state resources.
  3. Asset-map your community: What skill-sets and resources can you mobilize locally to stop human trafficking?
  4. Identify existing task force efforts in your state and local community. If none exist, organize a working group or task force that would include federal, state, and local law enforcement. Involve probation, parole, and relevant NGOs. Look at the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force as a model approach.
  5. Train all law enforcement personnel and raise awareness about the issue. As appropriate, dedicate specific law enforcement staff—for example, gang units or those working with victims of crime.
  6. Conduct information workshops for local policymakers and agency leaders.
  7. Meet with local human-service organizations to understand the reach and scope of problems for families, schools, and the broader community.
  8. To avoid duplication, ask who in your community is already working in this space. Then, create a partnership whenever possible.
  9. Volunteer to serve on local task forces, coalitions, and other organizations working in this area.
  10. Promote education and training from law enforcement and community-based organizations to better inform yourself and your organization of trafficking’s complexities. You may want to host these training sessions.
  11. Don’t forget faith-based organizations. They are already heavily involved in providing intervention and treatment, and they can provide strong support systems for survivors.
  12. Connect with organizations like the Polaris Project. There are many, and they are great resources for training and materials. Don’t reinvent the wheel!
  13. Educate local organizations about the needs of victims/survivors and how you, as a community, can best intervene or assist. DO NO HARM!
  14. Create a safe haven for victims who have been exploited or for laborers who are coerced to work in factories or fields. A safe haven must be a judgment-free zone, and you must be advocates for survivor restoration to health, family, and community. A safe haven should include staff or volunteers with experience in post-traumatic stress or crisis-counseling. Domestic violence shelters should be staffed by individuals with experience in crisis-counseling. Use faith organizations (their facilities and community centers) as safe zones to report and access rescue and restoration resources.
  15. Facilitate reunification (only when it is safe to do so) with family and friends of survivors. Use community-based organizations to assist in this process.
  16. Advocate for an employment database to help survivors find meaningful employment and build a journey toward independence.
  17. Understand the individual victims and survivors with whom you are working. Use an informal survey process to identify family history, employment, and education backgrounds—get to know them!
  18. Reach out to local educational institutions, such as community colleges, vocational schools, public-school systems, and specialized programs for employment training.
  19. You can advocate for rescue, but you must also become a resource for individuals who have been emancipated.
  20. Think big, but act small. Small interventions like providing shelter, clothing, food, and education all happen locally. Law enforcement can be the champion for these services and create a bridge between prevention and enforcement.
  21. If none exist, create visibility around these issues by using billboards and other media that advertise that your neighborhood is a safe zone, free of human trafficking. Let perpetrators and the community know you have ZERO tolerance for trafficking.
  22. If none exist, create a local hotline to report trafficking of any kind or use the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-3737-888).
  23. Implied in all of the above is a need to coordinate, collaborate, and communicate with public officials and other organizations working to end human trafficking. Step out from individual silos and isolated action to connect with others.
  24. Take informed action that can be measured, and don’t do this work alone! Work with people who have knowledge and expertise. Working in isolation can do more damage than good.
  25. Organize a community summit, bringing together key players and leadership to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat sex- and labor-trafficking in your community.

Learn more at James E. Copple’s Community Policing Dispatch article: Modern-Day Slavery: Community Policing has a Blueprint for “Walking the Talk”.

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