Dallas CASA President/Executive Director Kathleen LaValle and her crew had the Dallas CASA headquarters all spiffed up on Thursday, February 8. After all, it’s not every day that Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott is going to be in the house to receive the Champion of Freedom Award from the North Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking with loads of politicos and North Texas leaders like Transition Resource Action Center Director Madeline Reedy and former Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief and his adorable wife Rosie Moncrief. Here’s a report from the field:
Dallas CASA hosted Gov. Greg Abbott and the North Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking (NTCAHT) on Thursday, February 8. The Coalition presented the Champion of Freedom Award to Gov. Abbott for his efforts to combat human trafficking on the state level.
The NTCAHT brings many partner agencies from across North Texas together to take a united stand against human trafficking. Included in the group are nonprofits like Dallas CASA but also local and federal law enforcement, faith leaders and social service providers. The group is committed to working together to identify, rescue and serve trafficked persons and successfully prosecute their traffickers.
At the event, Gov. Abbott announced new plans to fight trafficking by creating a “do not hire” registry for teachers and school employees who have improper relationships with students. He also unveiled a plan to test a large back-log of untested rape kits and increase punishment for convicted human traffickers. He also proposed that sexual misconduct allegations against state legislators be investigated by the Texas Rangers.
“The reason why I’m going to work every day as a governor is to ensure all we do all can to keep our community safe,” Abbott said. This award “will be a reminder of the vigilance that is needed to ensure that we keep our community safe.”
Teens in foster care are particularly vulnerable to human traffickers. According to the coalition, North Texans are being exploited on construction sites and farms, in homes, restaurants, hotels, shop, massage parlors, factories and other places every day. The individuals and agencies in the coalition have collectively rescued and provided health, counseling, legal and case management services to hundreds of trafficked people in the past few years.
Also on hand for the event were Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson and Texas senators Konni Burton and Bob Hall. Also present were Texas representatives Rodney Anderson, Angie Chen Button, Linda Koop, Jeff Leach, Morgan Meyer, Victoria Naeve, Scott Sanford and Jason Villalba.
The coalition presented a scholarship to Tiffani Price, a student at the University of North Texas and a human trafficking survivor. Funds for the scholarship came from a partnership between the coalition and the Dallas Fraternal Order of the Eagles 3108.
* Photo provided by Dallas CASA