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For all the things the state of Florida can take pride in, continuing to be in the top three of human trafficking is not a statistic anyone wants. In May 2020, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution to further strengthen the fight against this pervasive crime.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021, County Commissioners, Police Chiefs, and representatives from state and federal offices and agencies gathered at Miami-Dade Police Headquarters as other joined via Facebook to participate in a Human Trafficking Educational Campaign Press Conference. As was presented in a press release prior to the conference, “Since the adoption of the resolution, MDPD has trained all sworn personnel to increase the officer's ability to recognize the signs and intervene in human trafficking situations. MDPD has also engaged with the community via social media platforms, website links, Miami-Dade Transit buses and bus stop ads, and video announcements at Miami International Airport terminals.

The campaign aims to have a significant impact on human trafficking by increasing the community's awareness of the signs for human trafficking and how to report it. Our goal is to educate our community through television and radio public service announcements, social media platforms, and community outreach programs.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office has an innovative trauma-informed law enforcement model for the investigation and prosecution of Human Trafficking. This unit encompasses distinguished, highly trained specialized prosecutors, investigators, and victim specialists. They focus on a dual track approach to do everything in their power to help heal victims while at the same time and with equal vigor, successfully prosecute their abusers.”

The range of nine speakers at the conference referred to human trafficking as a pandemic and some of the brief remarks by Oliver Gilbert, III, Vice Chair of the Board of Commissioners, included, “We will not traffic in people. The cure to this pandemic, to this disease, is all of us. It’s us saying this will not be allowed. Whether it be for prostitution or for labor, it does not matter. Nothing can match the combined will and attention of an assisting public who say this is not acceptable. Let’s go ahead and prove it.”

Joe Martinez, District 11 Commissioner, provided the disturbing fact of a global profit that exceeds 150 billion dollars and affects up to 40 million victims.

He cited the planned Superbowl in Tampa because, “It is known tremendously for sex trafficking. That’s something we have to attack and curb.” He also spoke of his years as a police officer and how they would respond at times to a call about a missing child; a child who later was found as either ensnared in human trafficking or even victim of a homicide. “If you know something, please report it.”

A related Press Release from Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle praised the on-going efforts.

“A call to our local Hotline (305-FIX-STOP) triggers an immediate response which can mean the freedom and safety for a human trafficking victim, who is most likely to be a child of our own community. The accessible Hotline may allow victims, residents and visitors to assist in saving these young individuals from a life of degradation and torture and help end Florida’s status as America’s number three designation for incidents of human trafficking.”

Another partner is Miami International Airport as they are the first airport in Florida to join the Blue Lightning Initiative (BLI).

This is an element of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign led jointly by the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). BLI trains personnel to combat human trafficking within the commercial aviation industry.

MIA will be training their 1400 employees in the program.

To report suspected human trafficking, or to get help as a victim, contact the following numbers:

State Attorney's Office Human Trafficking Hotline at 305-FIX-STOP

(305-349-7867). https://humantrafficking.miamisao.com/

National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to 233733.

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