Gateway Students Honored For Tool Kit That Helps Fight Human Trafficking

A group of Gateway Community and Technical College students will be honored in Lexington Friday for their work to help Kentucky law enforcement officers identify and rescue victims of human trafficking.

Zachary Motz, a sophomore from Independence, and Christy Booth, a freshman from Villa Hills, will accept a Liberation Award from the Kentucky Rescue and Restore Coalition on behalf of a team of students who developed a tool kit that police officers can use to overcome language barriers and recognize potential victims.

The students, supervised by Dr. Amy Carrino, Criminal Justice program coordinator and Gateway instructor, developed the kit outside of class as a service learning/community service project.

The kit consists of a compact disc that officers can use on computer systems in their cars, explained Carrino, who raised student awareness of the human trafficking problem.

There is almost always a language barrier, and the kit includes visuals that help the officer communicate with victims about where they are from, what language they speak and who has victimized them. By using the kit, officers can help put victims at ease with an authority figure who is there to help them, Carrino said.

Carrino and her students became interested in the problem of human trafficking last year. We have been very involved with the Partnership Against the Trafficking of Humans, which seeks to increase public and professional awareness of human trafficking and to increase the number of victims who are identified, rescued, protected and served in Kentucky.

PATH is comprised of various social service agencies, law enforcement, public and private attorneys and nongovernmental agencies committed to the anti-trafficking movement.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Anyone can be trafficked women, young children, teenagers and men and for many reasons. Sex and labor are the most prominent, Carrino added. Attacking this problem enables our students to give back to the community in a very meaningful way. Community service is a big part of Gateways vision.

The Northern Kentucky Human Trafficking Coordinator at Covingtons Womens Crisis Center recruited Carrino and her students to develop the tool kit. It received very positive feedback when Carrino presented it at a Northern Kentucky law enforcement multi-agency coordination meeting in September.

According to the Kentucky Rescue and Restore website, there have been 35 confirmed cases of human trafficking in Kentucky since June 2008, but the organization believes the actual number of victims may be much higher. Kentucky Rescue and Restore is a federally funded agency that works to increase public awareness and identification of trafficking cases and to provide direct services to identified victims of human trafficking to help them to achieve self-sufficiency and rebuild their lives.

Motz and Booth, criminal justice majors pursuing associate of applied science degrees at Gateway, will accept the Liberation Award at the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc., in Lexington on Friday.