Mayor's Office Press Release
Mayor Turner, Community Partners Unveil First Phase of Plan to Fight Human Trafficking
May 9, 2016 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner announced today the release of the first phase of the City’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategic Plan, a plan which has been dubbed the first comprehensive municipal response in the U.S. by the Polaris Project. It is a collaborative effort between the City of Houston and community partners to fight human trafficking 365 days a year, including around major events like the Super Bowl.
“Human traffickers rob individuals of their dignity and strip victims of their rights and liberties,” said Mayor Turner. “By raising everyone’s awareness about what human trafficking is, we will ensure that reporting human trafficking becomes as natural as reporting a robbery incident to law enforcement. By aggressively combating human trafficking, we are creating a community where everyone’s dignity and basic rights are upheld.”
There are five components to Houston’s plan:
- Change public perception
- Enhance links to social and legal services for victims
- Implement joint initiatives developed by the Mayor’s anti-trafficking task force
- Adopt new ordinances and departmental policies, where necessary
- Serve as a national model for municipalities around the US and the world
Plan highlights include a partnership with Yellow Cab and Taxis Fiesta, both of which have agreed to send out emails and text messages in English and Spanish to educate their drivers about human trafficking and how to report it. The taxi companies have also agreed to display the City’s new ‘Watch for Traffick’ public awareness campaign on their cabs. Deutser, a local management consulting firm, donated the creative capital to develop the media ads, which will be rolled out in two phases, before and leading up to the Super Bowl.
In Texas, there were 2,035 confirmed cases of human trafficking between December 2007 and June 2015. 717 of those cases originated in Houston. Because this is a crime that often goes unreported, the actual rate of human trafficking may be higher.
The City of Houston offers all interested cities free toolkits for download at www.humantraffickinghouston.org. In conjunction with the Strategic Plan, toolkits can be used to develop a comprehensive municipal approach to addressing human trafficking through policy advocacy, direct outreach, and public awareness campaigns.