No one disputes that we need to invest in making sure the resources and staff exist and the appropriate law enforcement agency is properly staffed and funded, but that's not enough. We need to go beyond the slick posters and occasional poorly funded ad campaign with meaningful, hard-hitting training and outreach for frontline workers.
We've all heard the stories. A teacher, waitress, convenience store clerk, front desk hotel clerk or a housekeeper recognizes someone from a poster, news story or Amber Alert notification, calls 911 and saves someone's life. We need to invest in - and we need businesses to support - the kind of meaningful training that will ultimately result in these people to do more than recognize someone. We need to help them see the signs and know what symptoms to look for and teach them what to do when they see something they know isn't right. We need to get businesses on board. For example, the tourism industry should be part of this dialogue and should be added to the list of industries. They need to be at the table.
The best way to develop an training program for frontline workers is to ask those who have been trained for their input; and involve frontline workers in developing the training.
Make sure Wage & Hour or whichever agency is tagged with this responsibility is properly staffed and funded to carry this effort out and to follow-up. If they aren't, implementing anything close to the following will be a waste of time.
Make sure the initiative has effective leadership from the top. If possible, involve the Office of the President or Vice President.
Hire a contractor or develop a agency team to:
1. Tap into any strategic planning on this issue. Identify goals a good training and outreach program should support.
2. Review existing research. Do a literature review of all the data and research conducted in the last 3-5 years. Conduct new research if necessary. Talk to frontline workers who have been trained and ask what materials would make detecting trafficking easier. Tap law enforcement experts who can provide first hand knowledge.
3. Work with law enforcement to develop a professional-looking, national training module that can be customized for local use. Make connecting frontline workers with local law enforcement part of the module. Feature the voices of frontline workers (protect their identity) who have detected trafficking where appropriate. What did they see? What did they do?
4. Create a packet of support materials to go with the training and frontline workers will find useful. Include role playing scenarios, informational flyers, pocket cards with tips on what to look for and instructions on what to do with a blank spot for filling in the contact info for a local law enforcement official, radio and TV PSAs that can be localized.
5. Identify industry associations and businesses where trafficking is most prevalent. Do the same with law enforcement officials in areas of the country where this is a big problem. Offer the training once a quarter.
6. Reach out to those groups and ask them to send a representative to a train the trainer session. Encourage law enforcement to partner with the associations to offer this training as part of an annual meeting. Include ideas for incentives to deliver the training locally (membership discounts etc).
7. Gather contact info for people who have been trained and ask if they want to opt-in to a trafficking alert system run cooperatively between local law enforcement and the US Wage & Hour, letting them know when to "be on the lookout." Report out on the effectiveness of the training and outreach campaign to these people.
8. Partner with the American Advertising Association to run the media campaign nationally.
9. Measure the effectiveness of the campaign quarterly.