Human Trafficking: 5 Questions Truckers Are Not Supposed To Ask But Deserve Answers To
Little Rock, Arkansas – Human and sex trafficking is a scourge on all mankind. Since the beginning of time, mankind has sought to exercise power in unspeakable ways over others based on immutable characteristics like race, ethnicity, and gender. It’s plagued societies for generations and the tentacles of such callous disregard for human life still runs deep inside people today. It’s evidenced by the fact that an estimated 24.9 million people have been victims of human trafficking worldwide.
Trafficking Is On The Rise, But President Trump And Lawmakers Are Ramping Up Enforcement And Legislative Efforts. Some States Are Now Requiring Truckers To Be Trained In the Fight.
In our hemisphere drug traffickers from Central and South America are increasingly engaging in this lucrative criminal enterprise and it is spilling across U.S. borders. The Trump Administration has been aggressively cracking down on this heinous activity. In the last year the Department of Homeland Security initiated over 800 human trafficking cases, resulting in 1,500 arrests, 530 convictions, and over 500 victims identified. Plus, the Federal Bureau of Investigation dismantled 42 criminal enterprises engaged in child sex trafficking.
Legislators are taking notice and beginning to act. The U.S. House And Senate has recently passed three bills aimed at fighting human and sex trafficking. The Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act, S1536, No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act, S1532, and Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), have all been signed into law by President Trump this year.
States are joining the cause as well. California Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign Assembly Bill 2034 which will require human trafficking training for intercity transit agency employees. In April 2017, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was the first governor in the U.S. to sign anti-trafficking legislation, Act 922, requiring those applying for or renewing a commercial driver’s license to complete a 30-minute educational course on combating human trafficking. Wisconsin followed suit later that year in passing a similar law.
5 Questions Truckers “Aren’t Supposed To Ask” But Deserve Answers To
In the noble and righteous pursuit to eradicate this despicable crime it seems truckers are increasingly being injected into the fight with and without their consent. This begs a few questions it seems few are willing to ask, but we’ll ask them.
Is mandating human trafficking training for commercial drivers an effective tactic in the fight against trafficking?
Why should additional responsibilities and requirements be placed on truckers in this effort, but not placed on the general motoring public?
Do members of the general motoring public not stop at gas stations, truck stops, travel plazas, rest areas, camping grounds and other human trafficking hot spots?
Why should truckers be singled out for training pertaining to “non-essential” duties simply because of the profession they’ve chosen?
If legislators believe training truckers is an effective strategy then whey aren’t they willing to impose this non-duty related training on all motorists?
Is Mandated Training For Truckers The Most Effective Way To Attack This Problem?
Supporters of this requirement for truckers argue it’s in the interest of the common good. If that’s the case then wouldn’t it be even better if all 222 million licensed drivers in the U.S. were required to complete human trafficking training to renew their driver’s license as well? Maybe, just maybe, training and mobilizing an army of passionate volunteers would yield better results than mandates.
Ben Massey, owner operator and member of season one of “The Driver’s Lounge,” a Transportation Nation Network original series trucking show, received the mandated training earlier this year when he transferred his CDL from Texas to Arkansas. In an exclusive interview he told us he thinks getting involved should be a personal choice, not a government issued requirement. “I think it should be up to the individual driver based on their own experience,” Massey said. “I think if the government had a group of people more involved in the training it would be more productive.”
Massey called the training a “positive thing” saying, “the biggest piece of information the course teaches you is to not intervene or engage with the traffickers and quickly report it.” Still, Massey believes most truckers who are required to complete the training are “just trying to get through it to get their CDL.” We wondered if the training better equipped him to spot the signs of human trafficking. “I could probably repeat the signs, but in a real life situation I don’t know if I would know the signs if they were in front of me,” Massey admitted.
“World’s Toughest Sheriff” Says Truckers Are Willing To Help In Combating Crime
Many truckers are willingly on the front lines in this battle and no one knows this better than former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio. The firebrand sheriff recently sat down with Captain Greg Myhre, host of “Truckerville,” also a Transportation Nation Network original series trucking show, to discuss this issue and much more. “I supported truckers when I was sheriff and thought it was only common sense to bring them in on the fight against crime,” Arpaio said. He says he views truckers as critical to reducing trafficking. “I believe in their [truckers] patriotism. I think truckers will be glad to help fight crime and help the government.”
Arpaio believes mandating training is the wrong way to go, but said truckers are being “underutilized” in this effort. He stated, “I would try to get the truckers’ cooperation and use their resources and especially their observation because they’re on the road all the time. Why do we always have to have police cars? Truckers can act as deterrents and police cars too.” Arpaio stressed this work should be for those who volunteer their services and that volunteerism is a critical component of making this approach work well. Watch the full interview with Arpaio HERE.
What’s Next For Truckers?
Truckers undoubtedly have an important role to play and the cause could not be more important. Even if one life is rescued from this modern day slavery it is certainly worth 30 minutes of training. Additional states are now eyeing similar legislation to that of what Arkansas, Wisconsin, and California have implemented. However, the fundamental question of fairness persists. If truckers can be singled out and required to undergo training related to a non-duty activity in order to obtain their license to earn a living, then what’s next?
What do you think the truck driving community’s role in combating human and sex trafficking should be? Tell us in the comments section below.
Cover image courtesy of U.S. Border Patrol.