The Orange County Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office, along with officials from the Orange County Transportation Authority and Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, joined forces today to focus on the crime of human trafficking and announce a new initiative to combat this form of modern-day slavery.
During a joint news conference at OCTA headquarters in Orange, officials spoke about the need for a multi-pronged fight against the growing problem of sex trafficking and labor trafficking – often overlooked crimes in a county known for its affluence and thriving tourism and entertainment industries.
Law enforcement officials, including Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, D.A. Tony Rackauckas and Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada, said that combating human trafficking in all forms is a priority, both catching perpetrators and prosecuting them to the law’s full extent. Reversing the trends, they said, takes strong partnerships between law enforcement and the community.
To that end, members of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, founded and administered by nonprofit organization Community Service Programs – and including law enforcement, non-profit agencies, victim service providers and faith-based groups – released the findings of the 2014 Human Trafficking Victim Report. Among the findings:
- Eight human-trafficking victims are identified each month in Orange County, on average
- 65 percent of victims are U.S. citizens
- Nearly half of victims (42 percent) are minors.
Recognizing the need for more public awareness, OCTA announced that it has taken two major steps toward fighting human trafficking. OCTA Director Todd Spitzer, also the Third District Supervisor, and Director Al Murray, also the mayor of Tustin, announced that the agency has launched a Be The One public-awareness campaign on its buses throughout the county. The goal of the multi-language campaign is to alert bus riders and to encourage them to “Be the One” to seek help by calling a national hotline or alerting a coach operator.
OCTA’s efforts include training its more than 1,100 coach operators on how to spot and report human-trafficking crimes and to get help for victims. A 40-foot bus is wrapped in a full Be The One public service message and buses throughout the county will display interior cards with public service announcements and the National Human Trafficking Hotline.