OCTA is stepping up its ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking this month, fully wrapping a bus with the message to join O.C. in fighting this form of modern-day slavery through its “Be the One” campaign.
The OCTA campaign encourages riders and the public to “Be the One to Help Out” and coincides with January as Human Trafficking Month.
“Human trafficking is a problem nationwide. Sadly, it harms some of our most vulnerable people right here in Orange County,” said OCTA Chairman Andrew Do, also the county’s First District Supervisor. “I’m proud of OCTA’s efforts to bring public awareness to the problem and to train employees to get help for victims.”
Two 40-foot buses will serve as traveling billboards, moving across Orange County wrapped in the “Be the One” (BT1) campaign ad. Inside, the buses will display messages with the National Human Trafficking Hotline: (888) 373-7888. Because victims may be using Orange County buses, stops and transit centers, coach operators are trained to recognize and help victims. Hundreds of coach operators have received annual training from members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Transit Police and the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force.
Research indicates that California has the highest numbers of human trafficking victims in the United States. California anti-traffickers, including law enforcement, victim services, and the public, have worked together for years to better understand the issue and identify victims.
In 2019, more than 1,500 cases were reported statewide. According to the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force’s 2019 Victim Report, there were more than 400 human trafficking victims during a two-year period just in Orange County. Experts say the problem of human trafficking has only gotten worse during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline jumping by more than 40 percent between September 2019 and September 2020.
“The continued partnership between the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) and OCTA is especially essential right now. Even in the midst of stay-at-home orders and a national health crisis threatening the livelihoods of all people, the crime of human trafficking has not stopped,” said Ronnetta Johnson, executive director of Waymakers, which is the administrator for the OCHTTF. “OCTA’s efforts to expand riders’ awareness of the horrors of Human Trafficking through the Be the One campaign help enable the Task Force to better identify, investigate, prosecute and provide crucial services to victims and survivors.”
OCTA launched its first BT1 campaign in 2014 with grant funding from the Transportation Security Administration. In addition to the bus wrap, OCTA will help spread the anti-human-trafficking message through social media and on its website.
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