Human trafficking is not a common subject to those in the telecommunications field. Some industry leaders have found, however, that tower workers are uniquely qualified to help make a positive impact on a global injustice. Recently, Kenny Blakeslee, President and CEO of Apex Site Solutions and Jim Tracy, CEO of Legacy Telecommunications, LLC, partnered with 3Strands Global Foundation (3SGF) to establish the TATE (Telecommunications Against Trafficking and Exploitation) initiative.
3SGF is a Sacramento-based nonprofit, co-founded by CEO Ashlie Bryant, that is working to end human trafficking throughout the U.S. The goal of the initiative is to educate telecommunications professionals on the signs of human trafficking and train them on how to recognize, notify and report the crime. The partnership includes sponsorship and support from more companies in the industry. This means that the training comes at no cost to trainees or their employers and is accessible as of today.
Although the subject may seem somewhat foreign to the tower industry at first glance, former NATE Chairman Jim Tracy told Inside Towers, “We need to get past getting uncomfortable. Our people are at gas stations, convenience stores and on the road and can really make a difference. We have a bias in our industry for action to do the right thing.”
For Blakeslee, the man who brought the issue to the attention of NATE, he said, after speaking with Bryant, that tower personnel in the field can be trained to spot signs of potential trafficking. “It’s going on all around us,” he said. “Tower workers can make a noticeable difference. If we were all trained, we could be part of the solution.”
Bryant, who was in telecom prior to co-founding the organization, said the victims of trafficking are hiding in plain sight. “Telecom workers,” she said, “have a unique view of their surroundings, and with that unique view comes a dynamic opportunity to stop this crime from occurring.”
By making everyone aware of the issue and helping them spot the signs, they can point victims to the right resources. Bryant said it’s important that observers of suspicious activity don’t insert themselves into the drama but alert the proper authorities.
Although human trafficking is a global problem, the U.S. is among the top perpetrators of the crime, according to Bryant. Although some states may show a low number of reported cases, she said it does not mean there is a low level of activity as it often goes unreported and is widely misunderstood. In fact, it is a $150 billion global activity annually, according to the International Labour Organization.
Various sponsors and leaders in the telecommunications industry are making the RAN (Recognize And Notify) Training and Certification Course available at no cost to telecommunications professionals and making it accessible online through the 3SGF portal located at www.3SGF.org/tate. Each participant can become RAN Certified in just 30 minutes.
“NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association is proud to actively participate in the TATE educational campaign and take the lead in promoting it within our membership and industry ecosystem. I encourage all of the Association’s member companies and their employees to join me in participating in the TATE video training to become “RAN” certified. Collectively, our dynamic industry can be a force for change to combat human trafficking and exploitation,” said President and CEO Todd Schlekeway.
By Jim Fryer, Inside Towers, Managing Editor