COLUMBUS — Capt. Mike Crispen of the Licensing and Commercial Standards of the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) wants to maximize what he believes is a key component in the fight against human trafficking.
“Law enforcement officers all over the United States are working diligently to combat human trafficking,” he said. “It’s a mobile crime, and it requires a mobile response. The transportation community is the sole resource for mobile communication. The TAT message, with the help of the trucking and transportation industry, provides law enforcement with the single greatest weapon to eliminate the overwhelming control these criminals have over their victims. In Ohio, the transportation community is providing an educational program to its drivers and customers and placing the TAT message on their vehicles and windows. So, the message is being ‘driven’ all over the state.”
To enhance that message — and because OSHP believes it’s vital for drivers to be able to explain the nature of trafficking, since they’re the ones driving the message all over the state — beginning January 2016, every driver issued a CDL in Ohio will be given a TAT wallet card, and all new CDL drivers will be provided a one-hour training program.
In September, Crispen completed a train-the-trainer program with CDL instructors from around the state, using a PowerPoint with notes, supplied by TAT and modified by OSHP for their state.
Crispen commented, “It’s important drivers understand the signs, so they can call when they witness trafficking. It’s also important to educate them on the issue, because my experience has shown that they take the issue serious. Most of the drivers have children of their own. Once they’re made aware of the issue, they tend to become warriors of the cause, spreading the word faster than anything we could ever hope to do in government. It’s for this reason, the Ohio State Highway Patrol views the CDL drivers as its partners in this effort to combat human trafficking — without them, this problem will only get worse. With them, we will make Ohio a bad place to do this kind of business – if you’re active in mobile crime, you are actively being watched.”
While authority over CDL licensing varies from state to state, Crispen explained that in his state, both the OSHP and the rules for CDL schools under the Ohio Revised Code come under the authority of the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS). ODPS annually revises topics to be taught and makes any adjustments necessary for CDL licensing. Crispen and others from OSHP met with the Office of Criminal Justice Services, Driver Training Section. They provided ODPS with the TAT training CD and asked if they would be willing to join OSHP by adding a topic to the curriculum. They agreed to do so.
“The notice of the addition of TAT training, including a copy of the TAT training DVD, went out with the notice of annual training which ODPS sends,” Crispen shared. “Some trainers and schools took advantage to start showing the TAT video in addition to current required topics. I think most will start adding some form of it between now and January.”
In Michigan, while full TAT training hasn’t yet been implemented for CDL licensing, Capt. Mike Krumm of the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division of the Michigan State Police has been responsible for having the information from the TAT wallet card added to the CDL drivers training handbook given to all CDL applicants.
“It is our desire to see all states add TAT training as a mandatory part of the curriculum for CDL licensing,” said Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “As Capt. Crispen mentioned, with training, drivers are vital partners to state patrol officers in the fight against human trafficking.”