TOLEDO, Ohio — Detecting victims and arresting offenders of human trafficking on TARTA buses is getting easier, thanks to a new grant from the department of transportation.
"The purpose is to arrest human trafficking in our area, to help to educate the drivers and operators but also to identify individuals who may be being trafficked on public transit," Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur said.
The grant totals just under $475,000. TARTA is among 24 agencies to receive funding from the Department of Transportation, with $5.4 million being awarded nationwide.
According to the National Human Trafficking hotline, the number of reported trafficking cases in Ohio has nearly tripled since 2012. Members of the Lucas County Sheriff's office say detecting traffickers or someone being trafficked is important, but prevention is key to eliminating it completely.
"It's a preventative initiative and, rather than being reactionary, being preventive. So, it's really a diversion-based type of program to get ahead of the problem," Mark O'Neill with the Lucas County Sheriff's Office said.
TARTA General Manger Kim Dunham said TARTA drivers already go through extensive training to detect warning signs of dangerous behavior.
"Any resources we can bring into the community will just help benefit the efforts that have already been undertaken here," Dunham said.