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Port of Seattle Implements New Human Trafficking Awareness Training

The Port of Seattle has announced the implementation of a new human trafficking awareness training program for its employees, developed in partnership with Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST). This training – the first proprietary anti-human trafficking training developed by a port authority – will ensure that Port staff, and others who work at Port facilities, have the knowledge and resources to recognize and respond to instances of human trafficking.

“The Port has made a commitment to safety and security, that includes learning to help spot and stop human trafficking,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Peter Steinbrueck. “This training will provide our staff and partners with the know-how to interrupt the traffickers that make this issue such a pervasive local concern and reach victims of human trafficking to ensure the airport and our maritime facilities are safe and welcoming for our community.”

“Human traffickers often move victims through airports and seaports,” explains Mar Brettmann, CEO of BEST. “The Port of Seattle partnered with BEST to create two online human trafficking prevention courses—one for the maritime industry and another for the aviation industry. This training will help stop labor and sex trafficking in Washington state as aviation and maritime workers learn how to recognize and quickly respond to a human trafficking situation. All employees can assist people who are coerced to work against their will to once again find freedom and hope.”

The newly launched Port curricula – “Flights to Freedom: Human Trafficking Training Prevention” for aviation employees and “Ports to Freedom: Human Trafficking Training Prevention” for maritime employees – encompasses an e-Learning module and in-person trainings. The trainings ensure Port employees understand what human trafficking is, as well as how to identify, report and stop human trafficking that may take place in or around Port facilities.

During January 2020 National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Port employees participated in one of three in-person trainings. Additionally, the Port Police Department has previously developed its own law enforcement-specific human trafficking intervention training.

During the development of the human trafficking awareness training, other Port of Seattle aviation and maritime partners and tenants participated in focus groups, led by BEST. These partners, including federal agencies, airlines, airport vendors and contractors, expressed interest in implementing this training for their employees. The Port is working with BEST to ultimately make the training available to all workers at Port facilities.

On January 9, 2018, the Port of Seattle Commission passed a motion directing staff to finalize and implement a Port-wide strategy to combat human trafficking. The Port’s human trafficking strategy has four focus areas, including:

Training – Ensuring that all employees have access to the proper training and education to understand both what human trafficking is and its impacts on our communities.

Communications – Using port facilities and communications channels to raise public awareness of human trafficking and provide information to stop trafficking at our facilities.

Policies and Protocols – Ensuring that Port policies prohibit engagement in human trafficking, and provide clear procedures for employees to follow to report suspicion of human trafficking and violations of these policies.

Partnerships – Leveraging relationships to reduce duplication and to maximize the impact of our efforts, including collaborating with nonprofits; local, state and federal agencies; and key customers and vendors.

As the Port acknowledges National Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January, it has implemented all aspects of the Port’s anti-human trafficking strategy – from the successful creation of an internal policy to ensure all Port employees understand the commitment to this vital equity and social justice issue to the successful rollout of a regional human trafficking awareness campaign.

Traffickers use violence, threats, deception, debt bondage, and other manipulative tactics to force people to engage in commercial sex or to provide labor or services against their will. It is estimated that human trafficking generates billions of dollars of profit per year – second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.

Washington state had the 13th highest call volume to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2018. In King County, an estimated 500-700 children are prostituted annually, some are as young as nine-years-old; there are over 100 websites for soliciting sex in the Seattle area, many of which are used for human trafficking purposes.

As both the operator of an airport and an owner of a wide array of maritime facilities, the Port of Seattle can reduce the probability that its properties will be used as a transit point for traffickers and their victims.

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