WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced the Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) $474,232 to help combat human trafficking in the region. The funds will go toward a human trafficking awareness and prevention campaign that will help passengers and law enforcement identify and report human trafficking activity.  The investment will help TARTA develop and disseminate human trafficking awareness materials to passengers through announcements on buses, update TARTA’s phone app to provide trafficking victims with information and resources to obtain help, and assist TARTA’s work with law enforcement agencies to identify best practices for reducing crime.

“We know that Toledo has become a hub for human traffickers across the Midwest, said Brown. “This key investment will help TARTA work with passengers, survivors, and law enforcement officers to identify and put a stop to human trafficking activity.”    

These funds are a part of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative. Brown – who serves as the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which oversees DOT’s Federal Transit Administration – helped secure record investment of $20 million per year for FTA’s research program, which is funding the TARTA grant, in the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act” in 2015. 

Earlier this month, Brown marked January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, calling for action on his PROTECT Act, which would help crack down on human trafficking and better support victims in Ohio.

Brown’s PROTECT Act, which is supported by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), would:

  • Amend existing human trafficking law to specify that the use of drugs or illegal substances to cause a person to engage in a commercial sex act or forced labor constitutes a form of coercion; and
  • Protect trafficking victims from prosecution, recognizing that victims are often forced to commit crimes by virtue of their own victimization.

Read more about Brown’s PROTECT Act here.

Brown is also supporting a bipartisan resolution introduced yesterday to support National Trafficking and Modern Slavery Prevention Month.