RTA first transit system to combat human trafficking

9:05 AM, Jul 27, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- The decision came coincidentally, just after Ariel Castro's three women victims were rescued from their captivity and abuse.

RTA chose to become the nation's first transit system to respond to a federal request to combat human trafficking.

RTA spokesperson Mary Shaffer said, "Because we have so many eyes and ears on the street, it may give us a chance to help somebody in need."

So far 1500 workers have taken the voluntary training which includes viewing a video.

The system plans to install placards with the theme "Look below the surface," to alert 200,000 daily commuters what the signs are for trafficking victims in trouble.

The program amounts to an extension of the existing Safe Place campaign. All buses and trains have yellow and black diamond- shaped signs alerting juveniles who are runaways or have problems they can ask the driver to help them get assistance.

Shaffer said, "We have a couple reports a month .... usually a juvenile will go up to a driver and say  'I need help' and we've been able to help them."

The agency is paying for the cost of the placards and training.

Shaffer said helping one person would be worth the modest cost.

Transit Union President William Nix thinks the program makes sense.

Drivers have been concerned about their own security lately with several incidents involving confrontations or incidents with passengers.

But Nix says they want to do all they can to protect the public.


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