NASHVILLE - A statewide women's group today launched a campaign to help educate law enforcement, middle school personnel, emergency room workers and others about human trafficking and encourage use of a state hotline to report cases.
Calling trafficking, including the that of underage girls, "modern day slavery," Ann Coulter of the Women's Fund of Greater Chattanooga said at a state Capitol news conference that "our focus is on getting this information about the hotline to the people out there who are most likely to run across one of these girls."
The Chattanooga group and similar organizations in Memphis and Nashville joined together to create the the Women's Fund Alliance, raising $150,000 to bring greater awareness of human trafficking and the 1-855-558-6484 hotline. The line is operated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Callers can report suspected incidents confidentially to trained professionals.
Coulter said that while the $150,000 isn't enough for a statewide television buy, it will help spread the word.
Also attending the event at Legislative Plaza were former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, TBI Director Mark Gwyn, the TBI's Assistant Special Agent Margie Quin and state lawmakers sponsoring a 15-bill package of bills addressing various trafficking issues.
Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, said new laws passed in the last few years have catapulted Tennessee into the No. 2 spot among states nationally in addressing problems. His goal? To make Tennessee the top state."
Sponsors of the legislation include House Criminal Justice Committee Chairman Eric Watson, R-Cleveland.