Officials say because of Roanoke’s proximity to Interstate 81, the city could be a potential gateway for human traffickers.”
“Many times when folks fall victim to human trafficking, they can come through our area 81 being a primary artery as well as 220. So if it can happen in the Roanoke Valley, it can happen anywhere in our country,” said Chief Time Jones, Roanoke City Police.
Roanoke City Police say they have investigated one report of human trafficking in the past, but that case, likely not an isolated incident.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline there have been one hundred and sixteen cases reported in the year 2016 in the Commonwealth.
“Sadly these crimes do exist, they do exist in our area, and they do exist in this country and in this world so we want to do everything we can to stop it, to prosecute people and to prevent the crime,” said John Fishwick,U.S. Attorney, Western District of Virginia.
On Wed. Police unveiled this car, with the number to the national help line.
It could help save a victim.
They say their patrol cars are a great way to educate the public.
Police Chief Tim Jones says girls are most often the victims and everyone should watch out for the signs.
“They may have a substance use disorder. They may need financial assistance. They may be homeless. Generally there will be someone who is directing or guiding or leading them, usually a dominant male figure who is a controlling factor of where they go, what they do, and how they participate in social life or in public,” said Chief Time Jones, Roanoke City Police.
Officials say human trafficking has become such a problem in the state, they are building a shelter in Roanoke to help victims.
“The shelter will serve all of Virginia. The shelter will be in emergency care shelter for up to 8 girls for 90 days at a time and unfortunately they assume it will never be empty,” said Keith Farmer, Director of Straight Street.
Law enforcement officials hope to prevent more people becoming victims, by making sure this car is seen on the streets.