NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee is fighting hard against the terror of human trafficking, and state law enforcement are seeing results in the battle against the vicious cycle of slavery.
The nonprofit Shared Hope International named Tennessee the best state in the nation for its approach to combating human trafficking.
From state legislation to law enforcement, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says we are ranked the best due to a collaboration of efforts, including the more than a dozen non-profits that help battle human trafficking in a number of ways.
The international anti-human trafficking organization Hope for Justice is one of them.
“We rescue, restore, and reform,” Callie Hendrickson, an administrator with the nonprofit, told News 2.
Their investigators are often on the front lines.
“We have investigators on staff who are able to investigate cases throughout the state (and) do rescues if necessary,” she explained.
While Hendrickson is fairly new to the organization, she says in the past few months of her time with the nonprofit they’ve had 50 cases within the state of Tennessee and two rescues.
Hope for Justice’s Nashville office is known as their investigative hub.
“Our main focus is really filtering through these cases and doing the best we can to investigate, rescue and hopefully hand a case over that can be prosecuted,” she explained.
Most calls for help come from the relationships the non-profit has built with police and TBI, others come from awareness campaigns through businesses and schools.
“There is not a place that’s untouched. I think every person has a part in trying to navigate that and combat it,”
While Hope for Justice focuses mostly on investigating cases right now, they do help with the restoring process of making sure that victims are taken care of from medical needs to safe housing and getting integrated into the community.
Their long term plan is to open counseling or a home center in Nashville, as well as more offices across the country.
Both the organization and the TBI say awareness of human trafficking is key in continuing to battle the crime. Singer Natalie Grant is a co-founder of Hope for Justice and she also helps in raising awareness about their efforts.