World Day Against Human Trafficking is Saturday, July 30 and Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is joining forces with the Iowa Department of Public Safety and the Iowa Department of Transportation to raise awareness about the issue. Their ultimate goal is to make Iowa a trafficking-free state.

Secretary Pate launched the Iowa Businesses Against Trafficking (IBAT) initiative in January 2022. The Iowa Department of Public Safety oversees the Office to Combat Human Trafficking, which provides investigative capabilities, training, resources and a reporting tool to collect information on suspected trafficking. Iowa Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement (MVE) officers interact with drivers daily and take part in special outreach programs to teach them how to spot signs of human trafficking.

“Eliminating human trafficking in Iowa will require a team effort and I am grateful for all the work the Iowa Department of Public Safety and the Department of Transportation do to combat this horrific crime,” Secretary Pate said. “Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery and there is no place for it anywhere. My challenge to Iowans is to learn more, keep your eyes open and report it to law enforcement when you see something suspicious.”

The Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Office to Combat Human Trafficking offers free online training that can be accessed anytime by clicking here. Their certified curriculum is required for any lodging provider that hosts public employees or publicly funded events.

“We appreciate the Secretary of State’s and the Department of Transportation’s efforts to increase awareness,” says Iowa Office to Combat Human Trafficking Special Agent in Charge Chris Callaway. “Our goal is that awareness in the lodging industry and the general public leads to increased reporting. In the last two years, our department has trained and certified nearly 600 lodging properties and more than 17,500 staff to identify human trafficking. With our ‘See It and Report It’ initiative, we’ve created a website that provides an anonymous reporting tool and a hotline to report suspected human trafficking. Tips received are then shared with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners for follow-up.”

Iowa DOT Motor Vehicle Enforcement officers also work with Truckers Against Trafficking, a national nonprofit that raises awareness of human trafficking. Their combined efforts in Iowa have become a national blueprint for others to follow. They are also placing billboards across the state encouraging Iowans to “Recognize and Report-Human Trafficking.’’

“We share the common goal of combating human trafficking in Iowa,” said Sgt. Joe Nickell from the Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Enforcement. “Creating awareness of the issue and helping people recognize the signs of human trafficking can make a big difference in putting a stop to it.”

More than 550 businesses and organizations have joined the IBAT coalition since it launched. Businesses are asked to complete two tasks annually: “Learn Something,” and “Do Something.” Businesses will commit to “Learn Something” by educating employees, customers, and industry partners on the signs and impact of human trafficking in Iowa. Businesses can “Do Something” by empowering more people to take action to prevent human trafficking in Iowa.

IBAT is a component of Iowa’s Safe at Home program, which offers address confidentiality to survivors of trafficking, sexual abuse, domestic violence, assault and stalking.

Click here for more information about the Iowa Businesses Against Trafficking (IBAT) initiative.

Click here to learn more about the Iowa Office to Combat Human Trafficking.

Click here to learn more about Truckers Against Trafficking.

Click here for more information about the Iowa Department of Transportations’ Recognize & Report initiative.