JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Transportation is joining the fight against human trafficking.
In a news release issued on Monday, MoDOT said the department has signed on to the Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking (TLAHT) pledge, voluntarily committing to educating their employees and working to raise awareness of the issues impacting the state and nation.
The Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking pledge is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Transportation that involves transportation and travel industry stakeholders working jointly to combat human trafficking. MoDOT has provided education about human trafficking over the years and hopes this national partnership will bring additional awareness to the issue.
As part of the deal, employees with MoDOT will receive specialized training about the common indicators of trafficking and how to report potential cases.
“We may not think that human trafficking is happening around us, but the truth is, it’s happening in cities and small communities all across America,” MoDOT Interim Motor Carrier Services Director Steve Meystrik said.
In 2017, Missouri had the 16th highest number of human trafficking cases reported of all 50 states and Washington, D.C., Meystrik said.
Roadways, railways, waterways and skies are all being used for the purpose of human trafficking, and Kansas City, St. Louis, Branson, and locations along the I-44 corridor (including Rolla, Springfield, and Joplin) are the most common locations in which human trafficking cases have been reported.
The board of directors of the Mid-America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) recently signed the pledge. MAASTO includes Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Kansas. In addition, more than 200 organizations throughout the transportation industry have taken the pledge. The initiative also supports one of MoDOT’s core values of safety.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.