The Agency Partnered with the Coachella Valley Coalition Against Human Trafficking to Educate the Community on this Increasingly Prevalent Issue — [SPONSORED]
THOUSAND PALMS — Human trafficking is a real and present danger in Coachella Valley communities, according to Investigator Aron Wolfe with the Riverside County Sherriff’s Department.
“Human trafficking isn’t something that just happens in big cities or at the border – it exists right here,” Wolfe said in a prepared statement. “If everyone can be more aware of their surroundings, any one of us can be a disruptive force in the human trafficking routes of those being coerced into labor or sex trafficking.”
To that end, SunLine Transit Agency has launched a Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign that will appear on internal and external bus advertisements and bus shelters, as well as regional print publications. digital and television/radio stations. The goal of the 6-month initiative is to educate the public about the signs of human trafficking, and how to report what appears to be a suspicious situation. Sex trafficking is the force, fear and coercion to compel another person into commercial sex acts or labor trafficking against their will.
Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery. It involves controlling a person through force, fraud, or coercion to exploit the victim for forced labor, sexual exploitation, or both. Human trafficking strips victims of their freedom and violates our nation’s promise that every person in the United States is guaranteed basic human rights. It is also a crime.
Investigator Wolfe is an active member of the recently-formed Coachella Valley Coalition Against Human Trafficking – which SunLine partnered with to ensure the proper messages were being communicated and to conduct training with the Agency’s bus operators and safety team members. Other local members of the Coalition represent organizations that are often in close contact with sex trafficking victims such as the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, SafeHouse of the Desert and the United Way.
Traffickers exploit legitimate systems within multiple businesses such as banks to store their earnings, buses to move their victims around, and hotel rooms to fulfill their operations. That’s why SunLine Transit Agency spearheaded an awareness campaign for this initiative, which is funded, in part, through the Innovations in Transit Public Safety Grant by the Federal Transit Administration.
“SunLine is committed to creating awareness on this critical issue in order to prevent and disrupt human trafficking systems,” said Lauren Skiver, CEO/General Manager of SunLine Transit Agency. “This initiative will reach many thousands of people in our community, informing both our riders and the general public regarding the prevalence of human trafficking and how to help if someone recognizes a situation that could be an incident of human trafficking.”
The goal of this campaign is to educate the public about the signs of sex trafficking, provide a call-to-action for those who feel they may be witnessing a human trafficking incident, to create an overall increased awareness of human trafficking in the community, and to share resources that will allow others to take steps that will help stop sex trafficking.
To learn more about this initiative – including red flag indicators, high risk victim commonalities, recognizing the signs of modern-day slavery and how to help – click here.
To report any suspicious situation that seems like it may be an instance of sex trafficking, the community can call 1-888-373-7888, text BeFree to 233733 or “live chat” by clicking here.
- Human Trafficking: SunLine Transit