You’ve probably heard the stories of victims who unwittingly become trapped in human trafficking schemes.
Sometimes, a victim of trafficking is a vulnerable person trying to escape a difficult or dangerous life in their homeland. They fall prey to false promises of help, a job and a fresh start.
Or, the victim could be a young girl who decides to run away from home, thinking that life with a charming man who showers her with gifts is sincere in his attention. The tragic reality is that he is grooming her for an unspeakable life forced into sex work and torn away from her friends and family.
Sadly, Pierce County is an especially attractive region for trafficking due to our proximity to an international airport and the Pacific Rim. In fact, the number of human trafficking cases reported in Washington doubled between 2012 and 2017, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
But, we are working to reverse this trend and reach victims with help and hope.
Thanks to an appropriation from the Council we have the funds for an outreach campaign that is launching in matter of days. Soon, you will see Pierce Transit buses and shelters covered with information in multiple languages about how to escape.
The campaign will last a year and we hope to augment it with radio advertising and social media. It’s a daunting challenge to reach these victims as they tend to be completely shut off from any contact with the outside world, but we must give this our best effort. You can learn more about who is being trafficked and ways to help here.
My thanks to Catherine Rudolph, Chris Cooley and Kari Moore for their great work on this, as well as Sue Dreier and the Pierce Transit team. Thanks, also, to our neighbors in King County for their helpful support and collaboration – this scourge does not stop at the county line!
On a far different note, I wanted to pass on my hearty congratulations to our Planning & Public Works team for their re-accreditation by the American Public Works Association. Outside validation of our good work is always satisfying – especially when it comes with a perfect 169 points out of a possible 169!