Cleveland joins human trafficking campaign prior to GOP convention

The campaign was unveiled Thursday

A new human trafficking campaign is being unveiled, just prior to Cleveland's upcoming Republican National Convention.

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WKBN) – A new effort to combat human trafficking was launched Thursday in preparation for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The Coalition to End Human Trafficking says they’ve learned that trafficking follows crowds. During the NBA finals, more than 60 people were identified in Cleveland as human trafficking victims.

The group expects even more victims to pop up during the RNC.

Taken at 16: Youngstown victim recounts time trapped in sex trade
27 Investigates: Prostitution persists in Youngstown

Renee Jones runs a rescue in Cleveland for trafficking victims. She says most victims are taken when they’re between the ages of 12 and 14.

“It’s all about the money, and it’s our duty to protect our youth,” she said.

Part of the campaign will be placing billboards throughout town and on the backs of buses. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the effort Thursday in Cleveland.

A portion of the campaign is being funded through a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant awarded to the collaborative by DeWine as part of the “Ohio Attorney General’s Expanding Services and Empowering Victims Initiative.”

“It’s a good opportunity, I think, to explain to people that human trafficking is not something that occurs in other countries. It occurs in every city in the United States,” DeWine said.

Karen Walsh, with Coalition to End Human Trafficking, says community involvement is needed in order to succeed.

“Those victimized don’t self identify. They don’t know what’s being done to them is a crime,” she said. “They are afraid, and they are ashamed. They think they may be treated as the criminal, so it’s something that we have to help each other with.”

The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office has trained several police departments on how to help victims of human trafficking, but the Cleveland Police Department is not one of those agencies. The department says it will begin its training in 2017.

Police are taught to rescue the victim first and look for the pimp later, according to Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Detective John Morgan.

“The trafficker will be there. If your victim isn’t taken care of, you can’t go after the trafficker,” he said.

WKBN 27 First News provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. No links will be permitted. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s