Florida officials and ride-hailing companies plan to educate thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers to spot human trafficking victims before and during next month’s Super Bowl in Miami.
Law enforcement officials asked the ride-sharing services, hotel workers and security personnel to be especially alert leading up to and during the game Feb. 2.
“I’ve made it a priority to partner with those organizations that can be the eyes and ears to spot when there are victims of human trafficking to work with law enforcement to help them do their jobs,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said Thursday in Miami, where the first driver education session was held.
Florida ranks high in human trafficking awareness, Moody said, so her office sought a novel approach to finding victims, especially after “we learned that Uber drivers were rescuing victims by making tips, because of conversations they heard in their car” or “that truckers at truck stops were recognizing that someone was a victim and making an anonymous tip and that victim was rescued.”
English and Spanish sessions will be held for the more than 100,000 Florida drivers using Uber, according to a news release from Moody’s office.
Lyft plans several sessions to educate drivers – also in English and Spanish – with the help of BEST (Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking) and the Dessember Foundation, an anti-trafficking organization.
Some signs of a potential victim, according to YouCanStopHT, include branding scars, burns or tattoos, serious dental issues, confusion, anxiety and indications of physical abuse. Victims might allow someone to speak for them, respond as if coached or show reluctance to talk about their injuries. Moody’s office encourages people to report suspicions to 911, local authorities or trafficking hotlines or to text HELP to BEFREE.