Sacramento International Airport
(SMF) is the gateway for visitors to California’s capital and popular destinations ranging from the Sierra to wine country and connects our residents to the world. Unfortunately, airports can also be hubs for the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprise – human trafficking.
Airport employees are well positioned to help combat this.
During the month of January, SMF is joining the Not Alone campaign and Blue Lightning Initiative (BLI) to help raise our employees’ awareness about human trafficking at airports.
Every year, traffickers use trains, buses, airplanes and ships to transport thousands of victims, hiding them in plain sight while traveling to destinations around the world. The State Department estimates that 24.9 million people globally are victims of human trafficking, and that number has only increased since the pandemic began.
“As the eyes and ears for global transportation, Airport employees are uniquely positioned to help combat human trafficking,” said Cindy Nichol, Director of Airports for Sacramento County. “While this is year-round for us, this January we are highlighting our efforts to raise awareness of resources and help that is available to people who are being forced into dangerous situations.”
SMF partnered with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2021 to develop a new Human Trafficking Awareness and Reporting training program. Together with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Transportation, the Blue Campaign, a division within the DHS Office of Partnership and Engagement, created the BLI.
The BLI program is designed to provide airport employees with the tools to take advantage of their unique position and ability to identify potential human trafficking victims and notify federal authorities.
At SMF, there are signs at the ticket counters and women’s restrooms with information, including a phone number to text or call to get help if the traveler or someone they know is being trafficked.
Participating BLI partners instruct their employees using the BLI virtual training module and printed educational materials. The training may be integrated into partners' initial or refresher training for flight attendants, pilots, customer service representatives and other aviation industry personnel.
In addition, SMF supports the Not Alone campaign, a national human trafficking awareness campaign designed to help people who are being trafficked recognize that there are resources for them to seek help. That help might look like a referral to a local social services agency, a connection to law enforcement, or simply a confidential and validating conversation with a Hotline volunteer.