Area Utilities Come Together for Human Trafficking Awareness Training

Former Senator Bob Corker Shares How This Helps in Fight Against the Problem

Chattanooga, Tenn. (Sept. 25, 2019) – Human trafficking is happening in the Chattanooga area, but it’s rarely reported because the signs are often overlooked.

Early Wednesday morning about 40 service technicians from EPB, Chattanooga Gas and Tennessee American Water learned how to recognize possible human trafficking during a class led by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Human trafficking is when individuals are compelled by force, fraud or coercion to provide labor or sex.

“We felt like it was important to come together with our neighboring utilities to help make Chattanooga and the area safer,” said Leah Morrison, Tennessee American Water Field Operations Manager.

Former United States Senator Bob Corker kicked off the meeting, sharing information about his tireless efforts to fight human trafficking. While chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he was successful in heralding the passage of legislation that led to the creation of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery.

“I am proud that my hometown utilities are focused on this massive problem,” said Senator Corker. “Never before in the history of the world have there been more people living in slavery -- whether bonded labor or those living in sexual servitude -- but through efforts like this, we can continue to make progress in our fight to stop it.”

Service people have a unique opportunity to spot signs of human trafficking. While sex trafficking is the most common form, labor trafficking is also an issue. Industries include agriculture, manufacturing, construction and restaurants, but the most common is traveling sales crews.

Human trafficking is the second largest crime in the world, second only to illegal drugs. While there is a perception that trafficking only happens to immigrants, it can happen anywhere, including rural communities.

“Part of EPB’s commitment to the community is doing what we can to support the safety and well-being of the people we serve,” said Kade Abed, EPB Vice President Field Operations. “We are glad to participate in this training.”

Service providers can spot incidents of human trafficking by looking for telltale signs. Often multiple victims live in the same home. Few furnishings or personal items, multiple mattresses around the residence, or high security, like bars on the windows or padlocks on interior doors, could be signs. Lots of cash or condoms laying around could be signs of sex trafficking. In businesses victims may be forced to live in the building where they work, or they may be transported to and from the job site by their trafficker. Workers who are afraid to answer questions or look malnourished or in ill health could also be a sign. Another sign is branding. Suspicious activity may be reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888).

Tennessee American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water services to approximately 360,000 people in Tennessee and northern Georgia. With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 7,100 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to more than 14 million people in 46 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit
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