NANTICOKE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — You might have heard of Luzerne County Community College’s professional truck driving courses. But there’s one part of the training you may not have heard of.
“PennDot has really asked all programs to include some form of information about preventing human trafficking, Susan Spry, Vice President of Work Force Development at Luzerne County Community College.
LCCC’s human trafficking training for truck drivers uses information from PennDot and a national program called Truckers Against Trafficking. After watching an educational video from the national program, students discuss signs of human trafficking. That training is then re-enforced throughout the 172 hour course.
“It really goes into the concept of if you hear something, say something,” Spry said.
Trafficking can happen right in our backyard. It may surprise you to learn Pennsylvania ranked 11th in the nation for most human trafficking cases by state in 2019.
“With a large number of highways that we have and infrastructure that we have, there’s a lot of mobility in and out of the state. So it’s a good idea for folks to be very concerned about this,” Spry said.
Trafficking can occur in many different places, including truck stops. One of the red flags students are taught to look out for is a person’s behavior.
“Individuals who might seem anxious or depressed or disengaged. A lot of times it’s younger individuals that probably are a little out of place at a truck stop if unaccompanied by a parent or an adult,” Spry said.
According to Polaris, traffickers can attempt to capitalize at truck stops and may try to advertise to male truckers. Susan spry tells me the training integrates both awareness about trafficking with a caution to their truck driving students.
“We’re always talking about professional behavior and safety behavior.”
According to data from Polaris, 275 trafficking cases were identified in the Keystone State through the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2018. A majority of those cases, 213, were labeled as sex trafficking.
That represents an increase of about 35% from 204 cases from the year before. One of those cases, in 2017 ended in a guilty plea from Eric Rolle of Bushkill, Monroe County who investigators say forced women into prostitution and violently assaulted them if they refused.