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CATA Joins the Fight Against Human Trafficking

In partnership with Lansing Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security, CATA has launched its human trafficking awareness and prevention campaign.

In January 2020, CATA was awarded a $75,000 grant through the Federal Transit Administration’s Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative for a public transit safety campaign. Grant funds were also received from the Michigan Department of Transportation. The Lansing Police Department committed in-kind support for the initiative.

According to the Polaris Project, which works to disrupt and prevent human trafficking, Michigan is currently ranked seventh in the United States for human trafficking cases; Lansing is ranked in the top five cities in the state for calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the growing prevalence of human trafficking in the region and to provide information that can help prevent it. With guidance and ongoing support from the Lansing Police Department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, CATA is implementing the interactive-response protocol and a prevention-based awareness campaign across multiple platforms.

Learn more below about human trafficking, and what you can do to help.

A toolkit of shareable campaign material is available at cata.org/HTToolkit.

poster with title "Human trafficking is happening in our community" and a young man standing against a wall centered on the poster

Blue Campaign

U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign is a national public awareness campaign designed to educate the public, law enforcement and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases. Blue Campaign works closely with DHS Components to create general awareness training and materials for law enforcement and others to increase detection of human trafficking, and to identify victims.

Located within the Office of Partnership and Engagement, Blue Campaign leverages partnerships with the private sector, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), law enforcement and state/local authorities to maximize national public engagement on anti-human trafficking efforts. Blue Campaign’s educational awareness objectives consist of two foundational elements: prevention of human trafficking and protection of exploited persons.

“The Blue Campaign is proud to announce a new, joint partnership with the Lansing, MI Police Department and Capital Area Transportation Authority,” said Brandi Bynum, Program Manager for the DHS Blue Campaign. “Through this partnership, Blue Campaign resources, including posters, will be placed at transportation hubs throughout the City of Lansing to help local residents identify and recognize indicators of human trafficking and to help potential victims seek support. Partnerships like these enable us to help citizens recognize and report this terrible crime.”

See Say Campaign

One of the key components of CATA’s human trafficking awareness and prevention campaign is the debut of the ELERTS See Say app, which invites members of the public to anonymously report safety concerns and suspicious activities, including suspected human trafficking in the Mid-Michigan region.

Over 30 North American transit agencies and major U.S. airports already use ELERTS’ system to let passengers and employees report safety and security concerns. Hundreds of reports of suspected human trafficking have already been submitted using See Say- the only crowd-sourced mobile-reporting solution cited in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s report “Combatting Human Trafficking in the Transportation Sector.”

Download the app at www.cata.org/seesay.

What is human trafficking?

  • Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of men, women and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States. It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender or nationality. Traffickers might use the following methods to lure victims into trafficking situations:
    • Violence
    • Manipulation
    • False promises of well-paying jobs
    • Romantic relationships
  • Language barriers, fear of their traffickers and/or fear of law enforcement frequently keep victims from seeking help, making human trafficking a hidden crime.

How do I identify human trafficking?

  • Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations or houses of worship?
  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
  • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
  • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
  • Is the person fearful, timid or submissive?
  • Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep or medical care?
  • Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
  • Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
  • Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
  • Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?
  • Not all indicators listed above are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.

How do I report it?

  • Download the See Say App at www.cata.org/SeeSay to report any suspicious activity seen on a CATA bus or in a CATA facility.

  • Get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline by calling 1-888-373-7888 or texting HELP or INFO to 233733 (BEFREE).

  • To report suspected human trafficking to federal law enforcement call 1-866-347-2423.

Poster with the title "See safety concerns Say something" in the middle and a photo of a women in the background