In a resolution move towards combatting human trafficking, Opelika, Alabama, has officially declared January 2024 as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Human trafficking, recognized as both a public health issue and a crime, impacts individuals, families, and communities; therefore exploiting the most vulnerable among us. The City of Opelika acknowledges that an estimated 27.6 million people globally are subjected to human trafficking, with cases reported in every state and territory across the United States, including here in our own community.
The risks and prevalence of human trafficking have increased significantly in recent times, both in-person and online. Opelika recognizes the urgent need for a coordinated, community-wide response and is committed to supporting partnerships that comprehensively address human trafficking and create Trafficking Free Zones.
Mayor Gary Fuller of Opelika emphasizes the importance of education as the first step in eliminating human trafficking in the community. Many individuals remain unaware that trafficking is a threat to their neighborhoods, families, and children.
"The isolating nature of human trafficking makes it imperative that we raise awareness and educate our community," says Mayor Gary Fuller. "Our first line of defense is education. We must ensure that all front-line industries, responders, educators, and parents are aware of this issue, know how to spot it, and how to report it."
Stopping human trafficking requires a collective effort, and Opelika encourages all residents to join in raising the visibility of this crime. National Human Trafficking Prevention Month provides an opportunity for everyone to become more informed on how to prevent and respond to human trafficking.
“The Opelika Police Department has taken a proactive approach to combating Human Trafficking in our City,” says Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey. “We have conducted several operations to locate victims of Human Trafficking, trying to remove them from that lifestyle while holding those who traffic in other human accountable for their horrific deeds. We will not tolerate this behavior in Opelika, and we continue to do everything in our power to prevent it from occurring here.”
The Opelika Police Department partners with Ms. Kathryn Guthrie of Worthy2 (Squared), the Department of Homeland Security Human Trafficking Task Force, and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office in these endeavors.
Mayor Gary Fuller proclaimed January 2024 as Human Trafficking Awareness Month, urging all residents to join in the initiative. Together, Opelika aims to create a community that is Trafficking Free.