Pasco County has made strides in combating human trafficking, but statistics continue to paint a sobering picture about the prevalence of the problem.
Some of those statistics were reported during the Pasco County Commission’s Jan. 7 meeting, where commissioners praised local efforts that are being made to battle the problem, and passed a resolution declaring January as National Slavery and Human Traffic Prevention Month, to cast a spotlight on the issue. Commissioners also declared Jan. 11 as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Liana Dean, chair of the Pasco County Commission on Human Trafficking, thanked commissioners for their support.
“Human trafficking continues to be an ongoing problem, both in the state of Florida and here in Pasco County,” Dean said. “In 2018, Florida again ranked third in the nation in the number of cases of human trafficking.”
Dean gave commissioners an overview of what the human trafficking commission has been doing in its attempt to take aim at the problem.
“We have continued with our efforts to educate and make the community aware. We have trained over 10,000 people in Pasco County and across the state on the issue. We’ve spoken at forums across the state, most recently at the Human Trafficking Summit in Orlando.
“We also have reached more than 1.5 million people with our marketing and advertising campaign.
“We led the state in terms of getting human trafficking curriculum into schools, for which I would like to thank our superintendent for his partnership in that effort,” she said.
Pasco County was a year ahead of the state in getting curriculum about the problem into its public schools.
“We are also working ahead in addressing the Super Bowl, that will be in Tampa in 2021,” Dean said. “So, we will be launching several campaigns around educating the public about that, and preventing trafficking from happening here in Pasco County, and partnering with other trafficking task forces in the area, and also supporting law enforcement efforts to arrest traffickers and buyers of sex trafficking here in the area.”
County Commissioner Ron Oakley praised the human trafficking commission’s efforts.
“I’m telling you, they’ve been nationally acclaimed for all of the good work that they’ve done,” Oakley said. “I think they have people who want to copy us because they’ve done such a good job, as the Human Trafficking Commission, here in Pasco County.”
Published January 15, 2020