CULLMAN – January is Human Trafficking Awareness month nationally, and was proclaimed so in Cullman County this morning by the Cullman County Commission and will be in the city of Cullman tomorrow by Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs. Wednesday, Jan. 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Members of the Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force will be special guests at tonight’s Cullman County Republican Women meeting, where they will share about the task force’s efforts to bring awareness to and end human trafficking in Cullman County. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at VFW post 2214, at 112 Veterans Drive SW in Cullman.
On Wednesday, Karma’s Coffee House, along with the Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force, will host Coffee for a Cause from 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Karma’s is located in downtown Cullman’s warehouse district at 103 First Ave. NE, Ste. 140.
Cullman’s task force made great strides in 2016. In the fall, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a partnership between the DHS Blue Campaign, the department’s unified effort to combat human trafficking, and Cullman County, aimed at raising public awareness about human trafficking. Cullman is only the second county in the state of Alabama to partner with DHS. Jefferson County is also a partner.
"Being a partner with the Blue Campaign opens up opportunities to provide our community with free training opportunities, free literature and DHS agents to work with our local law enforcement to help combat human trafficking . The more education that we can provide the more our community can be protected from this heinous crime," said Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force Chair Kathy Wilson.
Through this partnership, co-branded Blue Campaign materials are posted throughout the county as part of a public awareness campaign to educate local residents on how to recognize and report potential instances of human trafficking. Blue Campaign Chair Maria Odom signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on behalf of the DHS with Cullman County Commission Chairman Kenneth Walker.
The Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force is made up of representatives from local community organizations, juvenile probation and the district attorney’s office, including Cullman County Presiding District Judge Kim Chaney and District Attorney C. Wilson Blaylock. The task force holds free public training sessions, some with the DHS Blue Campaign, and spreads public awareness materials to members of the Cullman County community, including targeted materials to attorneys, juveniles and members of the trucking industry in the county.
“I am extremely pleased and proud that through the efforts of the Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force that Cullman County has been chosen to partner with the United States Department of Homeland Security with the Blue Campaign to bring awareness and education about human trafficking to our county and state,” Chaney said.
“It is my understanding that Cullman County will be only the second governmental entity in the state of Alabama that has been selected by Homeland Security to participate in the Blue Campaign,” he continued. “This partnership will allow the Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force to access world-class resources to inform and educate area law enforcement, medical providers, attorneys, educators, business leaders and the community about human exploitation for profit.
“Hopefully we can use these resources to make a positive impact not only in Cullman County but the entire state of Alabama, “said Chaney. “But more importantly, as we call attention to these issues I hope to use these resources to work to make Cullman County a safer place for our children and families.”
The Blue Campaign works in partnership with law enforcement, government, non-governmental and private organizations to protect the basic right of freedom and to bring those who exploit human lives to justice.
Find the Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force on Facebook at http://qrne.ws/ht.
For more information on the Blue Campaign, visit www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign.
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