Human-trafficking victims' advocates push for more education on the epidemic

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala (WIAT) -- The Homewood Police Department and other organizations are working hard at fighting human-trafficking and helping victims. 

Recently, Homewood Police made two human trafficking arrests.

Homewood Police said the operation involved undercover officers responding to social media and internet adds solicitng sexual activity for payment and targeted the Oxmoor Road and Lakeshore Parkway exits off of I-65.

Also on Tuesday, human trafficking victims' advocates held a panel discussion. The trend discussed focused on helping the victims.

Homewood police said they are not only focused on arresting the people involved in human trafficking but digging deeper on who the victims are and how to help them.

Human trafficking is being attacked by law enforcment all over the country. 

"Homewood finds themselves at the unhappy crossroads from multiple states," said Leuitenant Greg Brundage with Special Operations Division of Homewood Police. 

Brundage said the women considered prostitutes are sometimes not what they appear to be.

"I think when you look beyond the misdemeanor prostitution charges, when you look deeper and spend some time being advocates on law enforcement side, not just prosecuting offenders but digging deeper in an interview, and becoming advocates for those victims," said Brundage. 

This national epidemic is a big topic. 

Lawyers in central Alabama got together with a panelist to discuss what more can be done. 

"We must educate the public and try to root out this evil in our times and one of the ways to do that is going after and bankrupt the people and industry that supports this kind of trafficking and modern slavery," said Jack Hood, president of Arthur D. Shores-Robert S. Vance Inn of Court

"It's a global problem. It's a national problem . It's a problem happening in our back yard," said Doug Gilmer with U.S Department of Homeland Security. 

They discused recognizing victims of human trafficking. One of the panelists, Jordan Giddens, finds himself lucky he got out of it alive.

"People don't assume people of human trafficking are victims. In some cases it's people being drugged at a bar and getting kidnapped, like the movie Taken. I went through a very similar situation and that show  it can happen to anyone and a bar and any place in Birmingham," said Jordan Giddens a human trafficking survivor and finance director for Alabama House Democratic Caucus.

For more information on human trafficking, click here


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