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New Countywide “Don’t Be Silent” Campaign Supports Fight Against Human Sex Trafficking

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Friday May 22, 2015

Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Don Knabe joined L.A. County Supervisors and Metro Board Members Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis, Metro Board Member Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Metro CEO Phil Washington, L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, and advocacy group Peace Over Violence today to ask the public to speak out against human sex trafficking and to reiterate their collective efforts to crack down on the demand-side of the illicit child sex trafficking industry and announce the launch of an updated Countywide Metro and billboard awareness campaign.

“Over the past several years, we have made significant strides in our efforts to shine a light on the sexual exploitation of children for money across our region, but there is still more work to be done,” said Supervisor Knabe. “This new campaign is another great example of government and the private sector coming together to raise the public profile on a heinous crime affecting our most vulnerable children. Along with training thousands of Metro bus and rail operators and other employees, we are educating residents Countywide—many of whom travel daily routes through the main trafficking hubs—to be aware of a child who may be a victim and is in need of rescue.”

Metro’s updated campaign includes 3,000 ads placed on buses and rail cars across L.A. County. In addition, 85,000 brochures containing resources on how to help victims of human trafficking will be placed in Metro’s customer centers, stations, buses and trains. All ads and brochures contain a QR code that directs to the L.A. Transit Watch mobile app, a free app which allows anyone to report suspicious activity safely and anonymously.

“Human trafficking impacts the most vulnerable members of our community,” said L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell. “Often the soliciting and selling of children for sex happens in public places such as train stations, Metro stations and bus depots. The launch of this awareness campaign will help educate the public and encourage the community to work with us as we seek to address this criminal activity. We encourage the public to contact us and speak up about any suspicious activity they may observe.  My department will also continue to work with our County partners on new strategies to crackdown on not only those who make a living in sex trafficking, but also the buyers who create the demand that perpetuates the ongoing victimization of children in our community.”

Metro also is currently in the process of training all 10,000 employees, beginning with all front-line personnel, bus and train operators, maintenance and custodial personnel, on the devastating impact of human sex trafficking and how to report suspected crime and help victims who want to make a report.  

“Thank you Supervisor Knabe and the Metro Board for championing this issue and for your tireless efforts in the campaign to combat child sex trafficking,” said Metro CEO Phil Washington. “Metro is proud to support this important cause, and we encourage our many riders to be vigilant of suspicious activity on our buses, trains and in our stations. Don’t be silent. If you ‘See Something, Say Something’ to Sheriff’s deputies or Metro employees – it could save the life of a young victim.”

Thanks to a generous donation by Clear Channel Outdoor, OUTFRONT Media and Lamar Advertising, Metro’s campaign material also will be shared on traditional and digital billboards across L.A. County this summer.

“The ‘Don’t Be Silent’ campaign is a critical step in encouraging Angelenos to become involved in the fight against human trafficking, and Clear Channel Outdoor applauds the work of Supervisor Knabe and the County to shed light on this atrocious crime and encourage residents to take action,” said Layne Lawson, Director of Public Affairs for Clear Channel Outdoor. “We are proud to again partner with the Supervisor and County by donating space on our billboards to spread this critical public safety message and urge Angelenos to end the silence around human trafficking.”

“Lamar Advertising Company is proud to once again stand with Los Angeles County in the fight to end the unimaginable act of child sex trafficking,” said government affairs and real estate manager Richard Montgomery. “Protecting the lives of young victims takes the collective efforts of the private sector and government, and it starts with shining a light on this sickening crime.”

“Out-of-home has the unique ability to spread important messages to millions of people every day, and OUTFRONT Media is honored to partner again with Los Angeles County Metro and Supervisor Knabe to inform the masses of this substantial crime,” said Ryan Brooks, SVP of Government Affairs for OUTFRONT Media. “Along with our company’s commitment to public service, we all have a personal obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and we hope that our media across Los Angeles will help make an impact.”

The campaign supports three “War on Child Sex Trafficking” laws passed in 2014: SB 1388, which increased fines and penalties for anyone convicted of pimping or purchasing a minor; SB 955, which added human trafficking to a list of offenses that will allow the use of wiretapping; and SB 939, which allows victims to testify against their traffickers in just one courtroom, rather than facing their exploiter in multiple jurisdictions.

About Metro

Metro is a multimodal transportation agency that is really three companies in one: a major operator that transports about 1.5 million boarding passengers on an average weekday on a fleet of 2,000 clean air buses and six rail lines, a major construction agency that oversees many bus, rail, highway and other mobility related building projects, and it is the lead transportation planning and programming agency for Los Angeles County.  Overseeing one of the largest public works programs in America, Metro is, literally, changing the urban landscape of the Los Angeles region. Dozens of transit, highway and other mobility projects largely funded by Measure R are under construction or in the planning stages. These include five new rail lines, the I-5 widening and other major projects.

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