Administration to ‘Train’ 8,000 Amtrak Employees to Spot Human Trafficking

By Pete Winn | October 4, 2012 | 6:16 PM EDT

Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood at Washington's Union Station. (Photo: DHS)

( – Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Thursday that all Americans have a responsibility to watch for signs of human trafficking – “anytime” they travel.

“Anytime someone travels by plane, train, bus or car they have a responsibility to keep an eye out for these activities,” LaHood said.

“It can be as simple as a passenger alerting staff that they see a child on a train that doesn't appear to know the people she is with or an Amtrak employee calling in with a tip.”

LaHood'c comments came as he, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman jointly announced that the Obama administration wants to train 8,000 “frontline” Amtrak employees – train conductors, ticket agents, baggage handlers and Amtrak Police Department officers -- on how to spot human trafficking.

“We welcome partnerships like the one we’re announcing today, that can build a whole-of-nation approach to eliminating this scourge,” Napolitano said at the news conference, held at Washington, D.C.’s Union Station.

“Transportation workers interact with thousands of travelers every day, so they are in a unique position to observe and report situations that don’t seem right,” Napolitano added.

Managers at the national passenger rail service will view online videos about trafficking, and train crews will receive regularly scheduled briefings on how to spot trafficking victims.

“Amtrak will utilize training and awareness materials developed by the DHS Blue Campaign to educate frontline transportation employees and Amtrak Police Department officers of potential indicators of human trafficking,” she said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is part of Homeland Security, is responsible for investigating human trafficking.

Napolitano also said that DHS and USDOT have committed to training their own employees on how to identify and report potential cases of human trafficking.”

No costs for the additional training or materials were immediately available.

In March of this year, President Obama directed his administration to redouble efforts to eliminate human trafficking.