Every year traffickers use trains, buses, planes and ships to transport thousands of victims, hiding them in plain sight while traveling to destinations around the world. As the eyes and ears in airports and global transportation systems, airport employees are uniquely positioned to help combat the issue of human trafficking.
January was National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and in recognition of that, the Sacramento County Department of Airports (SCDA) partnered with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a new Human Trafficking Awareness and Reporting training program.
Together with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Transportation, the Blue Campaign, a division within the DHS Office of Partnership and Engagement, created the Blue Lightning Initiative (BLI).
The BLI program is designed to provide airport employees with the tools needed to take advantage of their unique position and ability to identify potential human trafficking victims and notify federal authorities.
In 2018, then California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2034. This bill requires transit agencies like bus and light rail stations to provide human trafficking training to employees who may interact with traffickers and/or their victims.
Although the bill does not apply to airport agencies, SCDA has decided to move forward and join this partnership to provide training to all of its employees.
“SCDA leadership feels strongly about this program,” said Airport Director Cindy Nichol. “We realize the potential impact it can have and we are committed to offering this training to our employees.”
In addition to a number of other Federal agencies, there are approximately 10 other airports, 26 airlines, and six industry associations taking part in the program.
Participating BLI partners instruct their employees using the BLI virtual training module and associated printed educational materials. The training may be integrated into partners’ initial or refresher training for flight attendants, pilots, customer service representatives, and other aviation industry personnel.
The Blue Campaign is the unified voice for the DHS efforts to combat human trafficking, working with federal, state, and local governments, as well as law enforcement, public, and private organizations. The Blue Campaign strives to protect the fundamental right to freedom and bring those who exploit human lives to justice.