ADOT officers combat human trafficking through training, awareness

Contributed Photo/Courtesy ADOT

Fighting the practice is a year-round mission at ports of entry, elsewhere

Contributed Article/Courtesy ADOT

PHOENIX –  Human trafficking is a growing worldwide problem and one of the most powerful enforcement tools to combat this crime is part of the essential mission of the Arizona Department of Transportation Enforcement and Compliance Division. 

This division is comprised of certified law enforcement officers many of whom are assigned to the various ports of entry on the state’s borders. While operations at these ports focus on commercial vehicle safety, collecting fees, and enforcing weight limits, it turns out these ports are a vital and strategic line of defense against human trafficking. 

Commanders and their staff from the Enforcement and Compliance Division at ADOT’s commercial vehicle ports of entry are trained to identify warning signs of human trafficking. These can include things such as unusual tattoos, a person’s unwillingness to speak, and carrying large amounts of cash without explanation.

Since 2019, this training, which explains the demand for human trafficking and how this crime is perpetrated, has become part of the standard training for ADOT officers. The enforcement division is developing online training so ADOT highway workers will also be ready to spot the signs of human trafficking.

“As the state’s transportation agency, ADOT is in a critical position to help stop human trafficking and we take that role very seriously,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “ADOT’s commitment to transportation safety includes not only drivers but the victims of this horrible practice.”  

Meanwhile, dozens of vehicles driven by officers with ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division have bumper stickers aimed at directing those who need help or who see signs of trouble to EndSexTrafficking.AZ.gov or 888.373.7888, resources offered through the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family.

Capt. Dave Curry of ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division is a member of the Arizona Human Trafficking Council created by Governor Doug Ducey to help make Arizona a leader in combating this crime.

“ADOT takes several approaches to do our part to end this heinous practice here in Arizona,” Curry said. “From comprehensive training of officers and employees to raising awareness through bumper stickers on our vehicles, ADOT is serious about stopping human trafficking and saving lives.”

If you would like to learn more about how to help stop human trafficking, please visit EndSexTrafficking.az.gov. To report anything suspicious, please call 888.373.7888.

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