As Ambassadors, we always hope that the seeds we plant will make a positive difference in some way. When we give a prevention and awareness event on DMST we highlight the signs to look for and the importance of saying something if you see something that does not seem right. We are sure to hand out the SHI Signs of Trafficking cards and explain the Human Trafficking hotlines that are staffed 24/7. We ask the audience to program the numbers into their cell phones.
During our events, we emphasize what Law Enforcement tells us when we ask, “How can we as a citizen best help you in dealing with possible DMST?” Their response is: “Be a good witness. Notice and record and remember the details of what you are seeing.” During our events, we are sure to encourage the audience to call 911 or local Law Enforcement if there appears a need for immediate response. However, we recognize that some people may not be comfortable for whatever reason or maybe in an unfamiliar location where they don’t know the number, so the Hotline Number is good to have programmed into their phone.
Yesterday we had a call from an attendee at one of our events and he recognized the signs and called the hotline number and then called us. He was able to give them valuable information about the type and color of the vehicle, the license tag number and details of what the people looked like and what they were doing. He was in a local Walmart parking lot and observed two older males putting a young girl who was crying into the back seat of a car that had blackened windows and it appeared she did not want to get in the car.
He called me to let us know that he just made the call. I thanked him for having good eyes and taking responsible action. Since the information warranted immediate action from local law enforcement, I followed up immediately with a call and made sure they were in the loop with the information that had been passed on to the national hotline. They had not received the information yet, so I gave them the number of the friend who had observed the incident and had the details.
They contacted him right away and were able to quickly determine that the license plate number was not a valid number, and they took action to view the parking lot video for additional details to follow up.
I did not want to assume that local Law Enforcement had this critical information, so the follow-up was the right course of action. My friend who had viewed the incident thanked us for helping him know what to look for and to be able to help.
We don’t know the final outcome but trust that the information and action made a difference and could have saved a young girl’s life.