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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jarrod Sadulski

Public-Private Partnerships and Mitigating Human Trafficking

Recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new educational partnership with rideshare company Lyft®.  Through an in-person tutorial program, Lyft drivers will be taught how to detect and prevent human trafficking. The program is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign that combats human trafficking.

DHS notes that this program will create greater awareness of human trafficking “so the one million people who drive on the Lyft platform can recognize and report it when they see it,” according to Lyft CEO Davis Risher. The DHS also notes that there are over 100 other partnerships with the Blue Campaign to combat human trafficking across transportation, lodging, and private-sector industries.

Public-Private Partnerships Can Save Lives and Help to Prevent Crimes

To effectively combat human trafficking, these public-private partnerships are essential. Law enforcement depends on the public to report suspicious behavior that may be human trafficking, just as it does with other crimes.

Ride-share drivers, bus drivers, and taxi drivers interact with people on a daily basis and are in a good position to observe travelers who appear to have their activities restricted by others. Some of the telltale signs of human trafficking includes travelers who:

  • Are coached on what to say by another person traveling with them

  • Have bruises at various stages of healing

  • Are not in possession of standard personal items, such as identification and money

  • Appear timid and look afraid of the person with them

  • Are traveling alone and going to unusual places such as truck stops or casinos

  • Are under 18 years old

  • Appear to be under the influence of drugs

More Partnerships Are Needed to Stop Human Trafficking

More of these public-private partnerships to combat human trafficking are needed. Ideally, community organizations, local and state governments, and law enforcement agencies should host public training events. Speakers at these events could discuss human trafficking within the community and make it easier for residents and visitors to spot human trafficking when it occurs.

Those training events should be tailored to the community. For instance, human trafficking may appear different in Detroit compared to the rural areas of Tennessee. In urban areas such as Detroit, human trafficking may involve runaways on crowded streets and trafficking victims living in shelters. Trafficking in rural areas may involve farms and agricultural settings.

In these training events, situations that warrant a call to 911 should be discussed. In situations that are not so dire, the public should be educated on when to ask people if they are in a hazardous situation and are not free to leave of their own will.

In the case of ride-share companies and public transit, brochures should be visible to explains what human trafficking is. These brochures should display the Human Trafficking Hotline phone number as a resource for victims to call.

In some situations, the victim may not be able to safely escape at the current time. However, helping victims identify that what is occurring is a crime and that there are resources to protect them is important.

Part of the challenge is that traffickers often accompany their victims to prevent them from escaping or seeking help. However, human trafficking brochures can be posted in places such as restrooms, one of the few places that traffickers are unlikely to be around victims of the opposite sex.

Mitigating human trafficking is everyone’s responsibility. But through the creation of public-private partnerships and educating the public, human trafficking activities can be curtailed and more victims can be helped.

Lyft is a registered trademark of Lyft, Inc.

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