by Sam Allard
Jerry Masek, spokesman for RTA, says that around 50 people attended the event, many of whom sat for a full 45 minutes to listen to various presenters. He adds that the initiative is part of an emphasis which President Obama himself stressed last year.
"The Department of Transportation is important to this issue because transit is how people get around," Masek says, "and transit workers are often the ones who notice if something's wrong."
Masek says the RTA has been training its employees to recognize signs of human trafficking and have promoted the Safe Place program — every RTA bus and train is an official "safe place" — where kids in trouble can get immediate access to a shelter or counseling. Additionally, posters at RTA stations are intended to continually raise awareness about the issue.
Yesterday's program featured presentations by U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach, the FBI, the county prosecutor's office and others. Guests and passersby were able to take advantage of tables with literature and information after the official presentations concluded.
Karen Walsh, director of the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking says that yesterday's event was important not only as an instrument of awareness and education but also "to demonstrate the cooperation of all levels of government with each other and with social service agencies to address the problem.”
Walsh says that the public's understanding of human trafficking and its local impact is "vitally important" to criminal identification, prosecution and prevention.