Annie Sovcik, the Program Director for Busing on the Lookout (BOTL)
Although the scourge of modern-day human trafficking has only gained media attention in the last decade or so, it has existed in the United States -- and around the world -- for much, much longer.
What makes human trafficking so insidious is its subversive nature -- on the surface, a person may appear to be going about their daily activities as usual, but underneath, they may be under the control of another person.
According to this 2018 ydr.com story, "Human trafficking is the carbon monoxide of crimes — difficult to detect, but extremely damaging to its victims and communities if unchecked ... Victims are often community members, although some are foreign-born and brought into the country through sham marriages and other means."
The non-profit PolarisProject.org states that "In 2018, Polaris worked on 10,949 cases of human trafficking reported to the Polaris-operated U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline. These cases involved 23,078 individual survivors; nearly 5,859 potential traffickers and 1,905 trafficking businesses. Human trafficking is notoriously underreported. Shocking as these numbers are, they are likely only a fraction of the actual problem."
One major operation that brought the issue to the forefront of people's hearts and minds was a federal investigation in 2005 -- where agents uncovered a complex web of massage parlors and individuals who would traffic women between them -- that stretched along the East Coast.
The good news is that in recent years, additional time, money, effort and resources have been allocated in the fight against human trafficking and major arrests have been made.
According to BOTL's website, "When building an army to fight a crime like human trafficking, the bus industry has a key role to fill. Through their sheer numbers, extensive travels, and the nature of their jobs, members of the bus industry — commercial and school — are uniquely positioned to provide an extra set of eyes and ears for law enforcement in recovering victims and arresting traffickers."
The two programs are highlighted in a blog on the Smart Horizons' School Training Solutions website, which encourages everyone to sign up for BOTL: "This is a free training program and certification that should be completed by, frankly, everyone – especially if you frequently travel, are involved in the transportation industry, or are around children."
*** As front-line professionals, security officers should be on the lookout for human trafficking too. The Blue Campaign, "One Voice. One Mission. End Human Trafficking" was established by The U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Click this link to see several helpful videos. ***
The International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO) is dedicated to providing meaningful and cost effective security training for security guards and protection officers.
We believe that education is a necessary and essential part of professional security training and the security officer’s background. IFPO serves individuals, security companies, and organizations that have their own private security staff. Our students and members benefit from the recognition and standing that the prestigious IFPO certification conveys.
International Foundation for Protection Officers Mission Statement
Mission Statement Part I.
The International Foundation for Protection Officers provides professional learning opportunities for security practitioners, to impart the knowledge, skills, and competencies required to maximize job performance and enhance career potential.
Purpose: to make a positive difference in the quality of the participant’s job performance and elevate the professional status of students who partake of our learning opportunities.
Business: to supply committed security practitioners with a quality education to help achieve their highest potential and provide recognized accreditation for successful completion of educational goals.
Values: commitment, integrity, responsibility, and standards of excellence, provide the platform that supports our journey as we pursue our mission.
Commitment to Excellence: To be the recognized center of excellence and primary provider of education and training products and services to the security industry.
Mission Statement Part II.
“The International Foundation for Protection Officers is committed to the support and professional development of protection officers and supervisors. Through advocacy, promoting training standards, and providing accessible training, education and certification opportunities, we seek to enhance their professional standing as well as increase and diversify the value of the vital services they provide.”