by Bethany Blankley
A Florida-led virtual 2022 Human Trafficking Summit launched Tuesday nationwide, engaging experts from across the country to collaborate on ways to more effectively combat human trafficking. More than 2,300 attendees registered and registration remains open at HumanTraffickingSummit.com.
The summit provides over 16 hours of educational content, which will remain accessible online through March 2023.
Moody’s office hosted the summit in partnership with the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, DCF, DJJ, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking and Florida State University.
In a welcome video to participants, Moody highlighted her office’s efforts to combat human trafficking. Prosecutors in each circuit have a near perfect conviction rate, she says, and the state “is still exploring new ways to improve how we fight this terrible crime.”
The statewide Council on Human Trafficking, which she chairs, is providing a range of resources to help survivors and support law enforcement partners as are task forces and coalitions in all 20 judicial circuits in Florida.
Last month, the state partnered with Truckers Against Trafficking to train casino employees, hotel employees and bus drivers to learn how to identify and report human trafficking. In January, Moody’s office launched the 100% Club to recognize businesses and organizations that commit to training their employees to spot and report human trafficking. Her office also released an Online Safety Toolkit that provides information about red flags, risk factors and tips to stay safe online from trafficking predators.
“Because law enforcement can’t be everywhere, training new team members and partnering with new industries bolsters our interdiction efforts,” Moody said. “Traffickers work around the clock in person and online and we must do the same to keep up with this ever-evolving digital landscape and all the deceptive ways traffickers use the Internet. “
The summit’s keynote speaker, former MLB baseball player Adam LaRoche, now serves as a Homeland Security Investigations officer on the HSI Kansas City-led Heartland Anti-trafficking and Rescue Taskforce.
He said, “we must continue to address” the growing concern of human trafficking in the U.S. “and take active steps towards recognizing, understanding, and combating” the atrocities caused by it. He also thanked Florida “for taking a leadership role in actively engaging in this fight.”
LaRoche played for six MLB teams over 12 years. He won a National League Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger Award in 2012 when playing for the Washington Nationals. In 2017, he and his wife created the E3 Ranch Foundation to support wounded combat veterans and survivors of human trafficking. The foundation also partners with local law enforcement to help educate and train first responders to better identify victims and safely execute rescue missions.
As part of the summit, Moody, the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice honored advocates and officials fighting human trafficking. They include Survivor Advocate of the Year Savannah Parvu; Community Advocate of the Year Katie O’Rourke; Prosecutor of the Year Lisa Thelwell; Law Enforcement Official of the Year Special Agent Jessica Hurak; DCF Human Trafficking Investigator of the Year Shanta Grant Rouse; and DJJ Human Trafficking Advocate of the Year James Garner.
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Bethany Blankley is a contributor to The Center Square.