Hillsborough County leaders outline ways to combat human trafficking ahead of Super Bowl LV

The important thing is for people to say something if they see something that feels out of place.

TAMPA, Fla. — With Super Bowl LV just days away, leaders in Hillsborough County are sharing ways to help combat human trafficking. 

Commissioner Kimberly Overman, Vice-Chair of Hillsborough County Board of County Commission and Clara Reynolds, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, CEO are holding a zoom call to outline resources and reinforce the idea to say something if you see something.

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"Large sporting events and conventions bring revenue, excitement, and attention to a community, but there can also be a darker side, a side that victimizes individuals who don’t realize they are being exploited," the group wrote in a press release.

Those in need of assistance are encouraged to dial 211 to be connected with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and its range of resources. Of course, leaders say to always call 911 first if you are in a dangerous situation. 

To report "suspected victimization" the public is asked to text CTYTIP to 847411 or download the related mobile phone app by searching “Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force” in any app store.

“These large events are always exciting because they bring a new energy to the city. The unfortunate reality is that illegal and dangerous behavior also happens around these events with the influx of visitors," Reynolds said.

Commissioner Overman echoed the sentiment, but added that human trafficking is not a problem connected to the Super Bowl alone.

“Hillsborough County launched the Commission on Human Trafficking to tackle the deplorable crisis we have of exploitation not only during Super Bowl LV but during all high-profile events and even year-round," she said.

Busting human trafficking operations have proved promising with Super Bowl LIV in Miami last year. In addition to the 94 men arrested in undercover stings during 2018's big game in Minneapolis.

The idea that Super Bowl is the largest event for the crime is simply not true.

Sexual exploitation remains a serious and ongoing issue, but the Super Bowl isn't a primary driver. A 2019 study published in the Anti-Trafficking Review by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, concluded that it's a myth that the Super Bowl is the biggest event for sex trafficking.

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