PAMPA, Texas (KVII) — Members of Altrusa International (Pampa) are taking a pro-active approach to combat human trafficking. Volunteers with the civic club recently held a program called “Make a Difference Day”, on October 27th, where they met with members of law enforcement and community members to go over how to raise awareness and deal with human trafficking.
“No child deserves to go through what the children I know are going through,” said “Barb Hahn, co-chair of Make a Difference Day. “Nobody deserves that at any age.”
“We need strength in numbers between law enforcement and even firemen,” said Sheila Winton, co-chair of Make a Difference Day. “When firemen go out on a call they can know what to look for.”
The program entitled “Make a Difference Day” was put together by Hahn and Winton and presented to key members of law enforcement who deal with human trafficking. Gray County Sheriff Michael Ryan tells ABC 7 News the hotels and many reputable motels in Pampa work with law enforcement when there might be a possible case of human trafficking.
“We're lucky here because many of the hotel managers and desk clerks are quick to call and notify law enforcement,” said Michael Ryan, Gray County Sheriff. “We then can come out and check it out. We have had some stuff lately and been out and checked on it. We’ve had suspicious activity in a couple of minor incidents with large groups of people traveling through.”
Ryan tells ABC 7 News the Gray County Sheriff’s Office works with other law enforcement agencies when investigating possible human trafficking cases.
Board members with Altrusa International (Pampa) tell ABC 7 News they will keep up efforts to raise awareness. Winton said she believes many of the ones participating in the trade of forced labor and sexual slavery are now targeting neighborhoods.
“The people who live in residential areas, they see a lot of foot and car traffic at a house and they automatically think it’s a drug house,” said Winton. “If the people are staying longer than a quick little exchange, it’s probably a human trafficking situation.”
“I want children protected and I want predators out of their lives,” said Hahn. “I want them punished for what they’re doing and so that they don’t do this to other people because it’s wrong.”
Human trafficking is a complex crime that many counties like Gray County are still trying to understand. Make a Difference Day helped educate those in attendance but both Hahn and Winton believe more people would benefit if they attended another program in the future.