MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami-Dade Police Department along with County Commissioners announced an awareness campaign on Tuesday to help put an end to human trafficking in South Florida.
“The City of Miami has the highest concentration of human trafficking in the State of Florida,” said Caridad Mas-Batchelor, a Special Projects Administrator with the Miami-Dade Police Department.READ MORE: 'Let’s All Get Healthy': MDC North Campus COVID-19 Vaccination Site Sees Steady Stream Of Those Wanting Vaccine
The group of leaders, standing outside the Miami-Dade Police Department Headquarters in Doral, announced the initiative aimed at curbing the statistics. The awareness campaign is part of a resolution adopted by County Commissioners in May 2020.
“It’s a port city, it’s a vibrant city, and unfortunately criminals get attracted to that,” said MDPD Director Freddy Ramirez on Tuesday. He added that 2,500 Miami-Dade officers are now specially trained to recognize the signs and intervene in human trafficking situations.
Florida ranks number three in the state for calls to the national human trafficking hotline. “Both labor trafficking and sex trafficking occurs here in Miami-Dade County,” said Mas-Batchelor.
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The awareness campaign will include signs, educational material, and public service announcements posted on county buses and social media pages. The goal is to not only increase awareness but help people understand the signs to look for.
“Is the person you’re talking to allowed to speak for themselves,” asked Mas-Batchelor. “Are they unaware of where they are currently? Or perhaps, they’re not dressed appropriately for the climate.”
The timing of the awareness initiative is also important with the Super Bowl set to happen in Tampa on February 7th.
In September, a man from Georgia was arrested and accused of sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl in South Florida when it hosted Super Bowl LIV.MORE NEWS: CBS4 Photojournalist Rafael Murciano Is Quite 'The Entertainer' With His Musical Talents
To report suspected human trafficking, or to get help if you are a victim, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-37-37-888 or text HELP to 233733.