JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – All year long, state and local leaders have chipped away at the human trafficking crisis, and now the city is turning to another tactic.
Jacksonville City Council is declaring January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
City Council is also designating a special day to focus on the problem — Jan. 23, which will be Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Also in its resolution, City Council will recognize Northeast Florida as being disproportionately affected by the crisis because the area has so much interstate commerce and travel on I-10 and I-95.
Add to that the high demand for services due to local vacation destinations and military bases and Jacksonville’s City Council says that’s why our area is seeing a disproportionate amount of human trafficking.
“When you have a Super Bowl come to town, when you have a Florida/Georgia game come to town, when you have the TPC — I’m using Jacksonville as an example — the more people you get, the more this is gonna take place," councilmember Tommy Hazouri said. "They travel, they’re like migrants themselves. They’ll come here send out their people, get paid whatever they’re paid, and continue the abuse at the expense of these individuals, of these victims and these survivors.”
- Florida ranks third in the U.S. behind California and Texas in reported human trafficking cases
- Jacksonville is the third-largest human trafficking city in Florida
- The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says this year 19 victims were identified and rescued four of whom were juveniles
- 34 human trafficking-related arrests this year
On Monday, Hazouri met with the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition to brainstorm solutions.
First, the City Council will declare January “Human Trafficking Awareness Month” in a resolution they’ll formally introduce Tuesday.
The City will also launch a community campaign called “Look Beneath the Surface” to better identify and help trafficking victims, like survivor Jamie Rosseland.
“You know, no one’s complaining about the masses of sex buyers who are coming to their neighborhood that are really creating the demand of women to be at those street corners,” said Rosseland. “And so the part of this crime that’s really invisible is really the demand for this crime. And those people are not being arrested, they’re not being held accountable. It’s just a very low-risk thing for them to do to go buy sex.”
The city will be encouraging citizens, businesses and city employees to take advantage of all local opportunities to become better educated about the human trafficking crisis hoping the more people who are aware the more people who can help stop it.