Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Agencies start initiative aimed at combating human trafficking

Agencies start initiative aimed at combating human trafficking

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Updated: 10/29 2:06 pm
LAS VEGAS – Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto partnered today with Polaris Project, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Clear Channel Outdoor to announce a new initiative aimed at educating human trafficking victims in southern Nevada about where they can obtain help.

The joint initiative includes the launch of a billboard campaign that highlights the toll-free and confidential National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (888-373-7888 or text BeFree to 233733), operated by Polaris Project.

Through this 24-hour resource, community members can anonymously report tips of suspected human trafficking or get information, and survivors can get help. The hotline is available in up to 170 languages through the use of interpreters, including Spanish. In 2012, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline received 20,650 calls. Of those calls, 174 were from Nevada including 106 from Las Vegas.

“Victims of human trafficking are strongly encouraged to contact the hotline to provide their information in a secure, confidential, and anonymous manner,” Masto said. “The calls will assist trafficking victims by getting them the help they need, and ultimately to convict those who traffic in human labor and sexual exploitation. I am grateful to our public and private collaboration on an issue that is of critical importance.”

“These billboards will tell victims of human trafficking that there is a safe place for them to call and get help. It also reminds residents and visitors that sex and labor trafficking are rampant in communities across the United States, including in Las Vegas,” said Keeli Sorensen, Polaris Project's Director of National Programs.

“LVMPD remains committed to identifying and investigating those responsible for the sexual exploitation of our most vulnerable youth into the commercial sex trade,” said Metro Lt. Karen Hughes. “The Las Vegas community and those who visit here can play a significant role in our fight against human trafficking by being a voice for those kids caught in this ugly crime.”

“Clear Channel Outdoor has a longstanding history of leveraging its unique position as a highly visible and unskippable medium to aid causes, like Polaris Project, that share our goal of keeping our children, families and communities safe," said Bill Kurr, general manager, Clear Channel Outdoor-Las Vegas. “Reaching and engaging people with life-saving safety messages through our digital media when they are away from home is an important tool in helping prevent the next child from being taken. We believe these messages could be pivotal in rescuing victims and bringing their traffickers to justice.”

The campaign, featured on major roadways throughout Las Vegas, will run for about 15 weeks total with an estimated 1.6 million impressions each week. From Oct. 29 through Jan. 5, five billboards will be live. Then, from Jan. 5 through Feb.10, seven billboards will be live. Billboards are placed strategically on major interstates, tourist areas, and communities where trafficking may be more prevalent.

In addition to billboards in Las Vegas, the campaign will extend to Reno. 

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