‘Our eyes and ears:’ Michigan State Police team up with truckers to fight human trafficking
DETROIT — Michigan State Police are working to fight human trafficking across the state with help from truck drivers, partnering with Truckers Against Trafficking for the fifth year — as part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Unfortunately, truck stops are where a lot of it happens, which is why Michigan State Police urge drivers to report any suspicious activity.
“I go to here, Detroit, maybe a little bit Ohio, a little bit of Illinois,” said Ulysses Jones, a truck driver for the past two decades.
Jones said while stopping for a break at truck stops, there’s almost always a knock on the door.
“Every time you’d be sitting there trying to get some sleep, you know, they have girls that will knock on your door all night long,” Jones said.
Those girls are sometimes affiliated with human trafficking.
“I come to the window and, ‘Hey, hey! You want some company?’ Haha, no,” Jones said.
He said it’s not only happening in the Midwest but across the nation. That’s why Michigan State Police motor carrier officers partnered with Truckers Against Trafficking to hand out pamphlets to drivers.
Opening it up teaches them the signs of human trafficking.
“We want our trucking community, as well as our regular motoring community, to be our eyes and ears out there,” said Sgt. Nicholas Asmus with Michigan State Police. “They’re kind of a force multiplier out there for us.”
The pamphlets also offer information regarding places to call if someone suspects a victim.
“If they do see it, contact 911 or the human trafficking hotline (888-373-7888) to pass those tips along so our law enforcement agencies can handle those situations,” Asmus said.
Asmus said he’s seen an increase in phone traffic — reporting tips to police, while drivers like Jones said the number of knocks on their doors at night continues decreasing.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol, Illinois State Police, and Indiana State Police are also involved in this effort, reminding everyone to call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center if you suspect anything.