Saint Leo University and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office Florida Forensic Institute for Research, Security, and Tactics (F1RST) have joined forces to fight human trafficking in Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco counties, a university news release says.
The two organizations have helped to form the Mel Greene Institute to Combat Human Trafficking, named for the late Spring Hill resident and philanthropist Melvin T. “Mel” Greene.
Greene passed away in 2020 at the age of 92, after “a life spent helping others in his adopted state of Florida, and beyond,” the release notes.
“Human trafficking has continued to be a horrible crime that is present within Florida, as well as within national and international borders,” said Saint Leo assistant professor Karin May, in the release.
May worked in law enforcement for the protection of children and the elderly from abuse prior to joining academia.
“But those of us in criminal justice and public safety administration have seen that concentrated attention does help raise awareness of the dangers involved and the means that criminals use to trap children and adults,” said May.
For several years, Florida has emerged as the third-ranked state in the nation for human trafficking activities, according to national statistics.
Saint Leo and FIRST have collaborated in the past to offer seminars on such topics as leadership development, natural disaster and emergency management, and response to professionals from a number of agencies and communities.
For anyone who needs help or suspects human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, text 233733, or use the TTY number of 711.
Community members also can use the chat function at HumanTraffickingHotline.org/chat.