City of Vestavia Hills Becomes First “TraffickingFree Zone” in Alabama (Vestavia Hills, AL) – November 26, 2019 Mayor Ashley Curry and the Vestavia Hills City Council signed a proclamation during Monday’s City Council Meeting that made the City of Vestavia Hills the first “TraffickingFree Zone” in Alabama.
The proclamation, similar to Drug Free Zone initiatives in the early 2000s, requires 1) the city issue and sign the Proclamation, 2) all city staff undergo human trafficking training, and 3) the city adopt a “zerotolerance” policy regarding purchasing commercial sex at work.
The TraffickingFree Zone program is an initiative of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT), that will utilize a partnership with local anti-trafficking coalition, Child Trafficking Solutions Project, to facilitate staff trainings and grassroots community outreach. As of November 2019, the Institute had established 113 TraffickingFree Zones across the U.S.
Mayor Ashley Curry explained why human trafficking is such an issue for the entire Birmingham metro, “But it’s not just a problem in Vestavia Hills, it’s the whole metro Birmingham area,” said Curry. “In fact, I-20 and I-65, that happens to cross at Birmingham, those interstates are known as the superhighway for sex trafficking.”
Jordan Giddens, Community Engagement Coordinator for the Child Trafficking Solutions Project, said that Vestavia Hills’ Proclamation was “the first step of a master plan that seeks to establish TraffickingFree Zones in every city in Jefferson County before the 2021 World Games.”
Geoff Rogers, CEO of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, added that, “Traffickers target areas with the highest demand, and international sporting events provide the perfect opportunity for traffickers to access an abnormally large number of clientele in highly-concentrated areas. We have seen this year over year with the Super Bowl, and disrupting demand through systematic change is a priority of our partnership between the Child Trafficking Solutions Project and the Institute.”
The Child Trafficking Solutions Project is a coalition of over 100 anti-trafficking organizations and stakeholders from the Birmingham metro, that combat human trafficking through common-goal initiatives aimed at creating systematic change that disrupts demand. The coalition is housed under the Children’s Policy Council of Jefferson County, and is co-chaired by Jan Bell, Executive Director of the CPC of Jefferson County, and Carrie Hill, Juvenile Probation Officer and Human Trafficking Liaison for the Jefferson County Family Court.