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Michigan AG's Office teams up with Uber, Polaris for human trafficking awareness campaign

Posted at 2:49 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 17:11:26-05

MICHIGAN — The Michigan Attorney General’s office has teamed up with Uber to raise awareness about human trafficking.

Both groups are working with Polaris to help Uber drivers and delivery people learn the signs of trafficking and what to do about it.

AG Dana Nessel has joined a handful of other state Attorneys General for campaign videos featuring educational training from Polaris.

Michigan Assistant Attorney General and Chair of the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission, Kelly Carter, said the training teaches drivers and the public to think outside the trafficking myths.

She said, “Don’t assume that a victim of trafficking only has one look or presents in only one situation.”

Kelly added that ride-share companies, like Uber have a big part to play in reporting these crimes.

“It could be either a trafficker has a ride-share account and utilizes that to put a victim of trafficking in a car to go to say a ‘date’ which is what they call an exchange of commercial sex,” Kelly said.

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She said the AG’s office and others are fighting sex and labor trafficking; both are practices that target those who are most vulnerable.

“We know that we have a good deal of agricultural work in the state of Michigan, so we know that we have the vulnerable population in those migrant farm workers,” Kelly said.”

The same goes for sex trafficking, with traffickers preying on and exploiting people who may not have strong family support, or those living on the streets in need of comfort and help.

Uber sends voluntary training videos to all drivers twice a year, hoping they’ll be more aware of what’s going on in their cars, or when they pick up food orders.

Brittany Anthony, the Head of Global Women’s Safety Policy for Uber said, “The best thing they can do is to mentally take notes; things like a license plate, addresses, physical descriptions, names, and ages.”

The goal is to then have drivers make a call to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which is manned 24/7 by Polaris.

You can send anonymous tips by calling 1-888-373-7888, texting 233733, or submitting information online.

In 2019, the group saw 364 reported cases of trafficking, but Jelly said that number is likely much higher.

“It’s actually very difficult for us to get an real sort of accurate numbers as far as how often it’s happening or the incidents in which is happening,” she said.

The partnership is meant to ultimately raise awareness and put a dent in the growing crime.

Anthony said, “This problem is a lot larger than people might initially think and it’s definitely happening within all of our communities.”

The Polaris training video that Uber drivers go through is available to everyone.

RELATED: MSP working with neighboring states to combat human trafficking