Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today joined Karen Walsh, Director of the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking, and members of Greater Cleveland's Coordinated Response to Human Trafficking, to unveil a new human trafficking awareness campaign in northeast Ohio.

The campaign, entitled "Human Trafficking Happens Here Too," will launch on July 1, and continue during and after the Republican National Convention (RNC). The main goals of the campaign are to raise public awareness and increase recognition of the signs of human trafficking in Ohio and across the United States.

"Many people believe that human trafficking only happens in foreign countries far away from here, but human trafficking is happening in Ohio, it's happening in Cleveland, and it's happening all across the United States," said Attorney General DeWine. "By launching this campaign to coincide with the Republican National Convention, there will be thousands of people from Ohio and all over the country seeing this message, and we hope it will help them be better aware of human trafficking, no matter where they live."

The campaign message will be displayed in several concourses at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, on Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority buses, and on a number of billboards throughout the Cleveland area. The campaign also includes a new website - www.HappensHereToo.org - which will include more information on the crime, signs of human trafficking, and how to get help.

According to RNC organizers, approximately 50,000 visitors are expected in Cleveland during the convention, which runs July 18-21. The awareness campaign will continue after the conclusion of the event.

“The nearly 30 organizations in Greater Cleveland’s Coordinated Response to Human Trafficking are committed to working together as a multi-disciplinary network to address the complexities of the crime and to provide victims with a safety net,” said Karen Walsh of the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking.

In addition to the public awareness campaign, Greater Cleveland's Coordinated Response to Human Trafficking is focusing on outreach to hospitality and transportation personnel in the Cleveland area to help them recognize common signs of sex and labor trafficking and on efforts to further develop coordination among law enforcement and social service agencies so that they can respond to victims in the most supportive way.

The public awareness project is being funded, in part, by a $105,844 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant provided by Attorney General DeWine to the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking as part of the "Ohio Attorney General's Expanding Services and Empowering Victims Initiative."

Common warning signs that a person is being trafficked include signs of physical abuse and starvation; a person who does not have any identification documents; seems to be controlled, is rarely alone, and is kept away from family and friends; has a "boyfriend" who is much older; runs away from home; talks about traveling to other cities; moves often; has a tattoo that is, in fact, a trafficker's branding; appears to live at or near a workplace; works with a large group of people in a small space; works long hours and is not free to leave.

According to the Ohio Attorney General's 2015 Human Trafficking Commission Annual Report, 102 human trafficking investigations and 104 arrests were reported by law enforcement in 2015. Authorities also reported that more than 200 potential victims of human trafficking were identified during the same time period.

The organizations and agencies participating in Greater Cleveland’s Coordinated Response to Human Trafficking are: Asian Services in Action, Inc., Bellefaire JCB Homeless and Missing Youth, Care Alliance Health Center, Case Western Reserve School of Law, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Division of Police, Cleveland Leadership Center, Cleveland Municipal Court, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, Collaborative to End Human Trafficking, Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, The Junior League of Cleveland, The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Community Center of Greater Cleveland, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, CWRU, The MetroHealth System, National Council of Jewish Women, Office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association, Renee Jones Empowerment Center, Royce Public Relations, The Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, SOAP (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution), University Hospitals, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Ohio.

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