WACO, Texas — After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently proclaimed January as Human Trafficking Prevention Month, local organizations are working to raise awareness in the community.
The Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition, along with UnBound Waco, are hosting an outreach event called 'Not in My City' in several Central Texas counties from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.
According to Allison Denman, the HOTHTC coordinator and UnBound program director, the fifth 'Not in My City' outreach campaign will consist of a short presentation and training on the basics of human trafficking.
Multiple teams of 3-to-4 community members will speak with business owners about sharing human trafficking awareness and prevention materials inside their stores or offices, Denman said.
In the heart of Texas, there were 93 victims of human trafficking in 2018. Law enforcement and organizations in Central Texas are actively working against the issue in its communities.
A total of 53 human trafficking cases were investigated by the McLennan County Sheriff's Office in 2018, which is up by 23-percent from the previous year, according to officials.
Since 2014, a total of 457 arrests of sex buyers, traffickers and persons seeking sex with minors were reported to the sheriff's office.
Denman said it's important for community members and leaders to be active in eliminate human trafficking.
"It helps the community understand that we all can play a part in educating others and advocating for victims and survivors, no matter where we live," Denman said. "The more people we have come out, the greater impact we can have on our communities."
More than 50 people have signed up in six different counties, which include: McLennan, Freestone, Limestone, Falls, Hill, Bosque and Bell counties. Half of the total amount people who signed up are McLennan County residents.
Denman said Bell County plans to be a part of the outreach program in the next couple of months.
For more information on Central Texas communities' efforts: visit the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition's website.