LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Human trafficking is a nationwide concern, and the Capital Area Transportation Authority is working to combat the issue in mid-Michigan.
CATA buses are everywhere, and its network of drivers knows the community well.
Along with the Lansing Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security, CATA is kicking off the “See Say” campaign.
The effort includes better equipping CATA bus drivers and other staff to report crimes.
“We are in all of the communities and so are the law enforcement community,” said CATA CEO Bradley T. Funkhouser. “Our communities have changed we have had to ask people, not only our drivers but the community members to report things if they don’t seem right.”
CATA is using the See Say app, which lets people anonymously report safety risks and suspicious activities, which includes suspected human trafficking.
Capt. Rodney Anderson with the Lansing Police Department said that the driving force for the partnership is the need for community education and other protective factors.
“Employees at CATA and other organizations play a key role in observing and communicating concerns but also promoting to others how to respond to concerns,” said Anderson.
According to Funkhouser, human trafficking is the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprise, and no community is immune to it.
“If we’re able to save even one individual from becoming a victim of human trafficking, it will have been well worth our investment and years-long efforts,” said Funkhouser.
Lansing-based organization House of Promise helps survivors of human trafficking.
“Sometimes we may see something but we don’t know what to do,” said House of Promise Executive Director Shari Montgomery. “Think about how many bus drivers are out there, and you know so many times they are getting the same people on those busses, they’re getting to know those faces, they’re getting to know their habits.”
Montgomery said the app is good for people who aren’t sure what to do when they see a girl who needs help,