Taking steps to better prepare public transportation employees to handle suspected human trafficking on public trains, buses or other transportation, legislation (A-5703) sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patricia Egan Jones, Dan Benson, Pam Lampitt and Vince Mazzeo was approved Monday by the full Assembly, 77-0.
“Unfortunately, human traffickers look to bus and train stations to recruit new victims and will use public transportation to take them to places where they will be abused,” said Egan Jones (D-Camden, Gloucester). “With comprehensive training, transit employees could serve as the first line of defense against human trafficking on public transportation.”
The bill would require public transportation employees to complete a training course every two years on handling and responding to suspected human trafficking. The course would be developed by the Department on Transportation in consultation with the New Jersey Commission on Human Trafficking. The agencies could also choose to approve a substantially similar training course offered by a recognized nonprofit.
The training course would be reviewed by both agencies every two years and modified as required.
“We tell passengers on NJ TRANSIT, ‘if you see something, say something.’ The same should apply to public transit employees who see something of concern,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “The training outlined in this bill could very well prevent abuse and save lives.”
Under the measure, the Department of Transportation would be responsible for ensuring all employees are trained within six months of their first day of employment, or within one year of enactment of the bill for current employees.
“Mass transportation hubs are key places for victims of human trafficking to be identified,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “If an employee spots a person they believe to be in trouble, they will be trained to know how to get the victim the help they need.”
“Every public transportation employee should know the best methods to help someone who endured severe trauma as a result of human trafficking. The same applies to a person who may have just been abducted,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “If just one person can be rescued, our efforts will have been well worth it.”
The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.