Hillsborough County looks to form human trafficking task force

Hillsborough County leaders are looking at ways to fight back against human trafficking.

At Wednesday's Board of County Commissioner meeting, Commissioner Kimberly Overman proposed forming a task force to combat the crime, saying she wants to send a clear message.

Tampa Bay has zero-tolerance toward human trafficking in general, whether it be for sex trafficking or labor traffic," Overman said. “Hillsborough County is not ground zero, but close, to some serious problems that are causing a great deal of pain in our community."

Overman cited recent efforts in Atlanta, Georgia ahead of Super Bowl LIII to combat human trafficking.

"By Super Bowl Sunday, February 3, all buyers and traffickers will know that Georgia does not tolerate those who seek to exploit our state's children," Georgia State Attorney Chris Carr said in January.

Many advocates warn massive sporting events are particularly appealing to traffickers because of the surge in high-spending travelers.

That's why Overman wants to act now.

"When we have large events like conventions or large events like the Super Bowl coming, we want to make sure that we have proactive action to stop that kind of activity, and do not want it here in Hillsborough County."

Overman tells FOX 13 News she envisions pulling together organizations and local law enforcement already working to end human trafficking so the groups can work together.  The Hillsborough County Sheriff supports the proposal.

"We want to make sure that we send the signal loud and clear, no human trafficking in Hillsborough County," said Overman.

Staff will report to the commissioners with a plan, flagging the appropriate agencies to work with, as well as a funding mechanism for the proposed task force.