In an announcement made at the end of January, the Federal Transit Administration detailed where $5.4 million of U.S. Department of Transportation grant money would be allocated to fight human trafficking and promote public safety in communities across the country.
TARTA is one of 24 agencies awarded a portion of the grant funds to expand awareness and public safety initiatives. Nearly $475,000 will be designated for the northwest Ohio region with the goal of strengthening the programs that are already in place.
“With this funding we’ll disseminate public awareness materials, invest in technology that provides information and access to resources for potential victims,” TARTA General Manager, Kim Dunham, said. “I’m confident that together we will make significant progress battling this activity in our community.”
Often considered the eyes and ears of the community, TARTA drivers already go through training to identify the signs of trafficking and know how to contact the appropriate authorities should red flags arise. Between 2007 and 2016, Toledo ranked 14th in calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline per capita.
“Human traffickers use public transit as the mode of transport because of the minimal cost and opportunity for anonymity,” Dunham adds. “This grant will allow us to expand on that foundation [of our training program.]”
During a news conference on January 31st, U.S. Congresswoman, Marcy Kaptur and partners on the grant discussed what the award means for the community and stressed the importance of working together to fight this crime.
Several area organizations will work in conjunction with TARTA to build up current initiatives. Some of those include the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office, the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition and the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute at the University of Toledo.
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