Help Identify a Human Trafficking Victim

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San Antonio is still in shock after the story broke that 10 people died in a horrific human trafficking discovery in July. A total of 38 people were found in the back of a semi-truck with no air conditioning. Eight adults were already dead and two more died from their injuries later at the hospital. Unfortunately, San Antonio is not a stranger to smuggling and trafficking occurrences like this as it is a little more than a two hour drive from the Mexican border.

Human trafficking is the illegal recruitment, transportation, or obtainment of a person for the purpose of forced labor or sexual exploitation. It is a form of modern-day slavery and Texas ranks second in the number of calls placed on human trafficking, right behind California. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there were 670 cases reported in 2016 with 2,135 calls related to human trafficking victims and survivors. Most victims are adult females and used for sex trafficking over labor trafficking. In 2016, there were an equal amount of US citizen cases to foreign national cases.

It’s happening all around us and occurs in big cities just as much as it does in our small Texas towns. If you or someone you know might be a victim of human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. It is a 24/7 service and fully confidential. Another way to stop human trafficking is by learning the indicators of it. Start by asking yourself these questions when you suspect someone is a victim:

  • Can the person come and go as they please?
  • Are they living with their employer?
  • Do they engage in sexual activities, such as prostitution?
  • Do they have signs of physical abuse?
  • Are they fearful and/or disoriented?

 

The San Antonio Police Officers’ Association wants you to remain safe if you witness a victim of human trafficking. Do not try to be a hero and save a victim of abuse. Call 911 immediately.

Fake Cops: We Help You Spot Them

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Police officers around the world are given the power of authority over others in order to protect people, their property, and their community. After they have earned the right to wear the badge, they are given a uniform, a firearm, and the responsibility to serve and protect the citizens of their community. However, there are people who take it upon themselves to impersonate an officer of the law, usually to take advantage of someone. To help spot a police impostor, be aware of the warning signs.

First, it’s important to know why some people impersonate police officers. The reasons vary, but for most it’s to attain a certain sense of power over others. It gives them an authority over people, as well as an easier way to break the law. It can be difficult to see the signs of a fake police officer. With police costumes available year-round and with advanced technology, it is not difficult to impersonate a cop and a badge. By familiarizing yourself with the San Antonio Police Department uniform and badge, impostors can be detected.

SAPD officer pulling over civilian.

When approaching your car or home, a police officer will knock and announce their presence. Watch out if this does not occur, this can be a helpful warning sign. A police officer has a purpose for being at your home so before you answer the door, ask the officer why they’re at your door. The officer will have no problem explaining the reason for their visit. A police officer will always wear a uniform, badge, name tag, and utility belt. In your vehicle, the best way to tell if you’re being pulled over by a police officer is by the vehicle they are driving. They will pull you over using a familiar siren, and if you don’t know what a San Antonio police car looks like, you should take some time and do so. If you’re being pulled over by an older vehicle in bad condition, it is doubtful this is a cop, and you should call the police.

This constant vigilance can be even more critical for those who are more likely to be approached by fake police officers. Police impersonators are more likely to target individuals who look easily fooled, especially young people and the elderly. Even if you don’t fall into one of these groups, make sure to look out for others, helping to make our communities a safer place for all.

When in doubt, always call 911. The San Antonio Police Officers’ Association wants you to continue having a safe summer in San Antonio.

When You See Someone Suspicious

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San Antonio Police officers at the door

We see it all the time on our neighborhood Facebook pages. A neighbor mentions that there’s an unfamiliar, suspicious person walking around the neighborhood. While your neighbor could be wrong and it’s just a neighbor they haven’t seen before, it’s good for people to be vigilant. Putting everyone on high alert to lock up and watch the children extra closely is a good thing, but one thing you should never do is try to handle a suspicious person situation on your own. We want citizens to be aware, but we don’t want them taking it upon themselves to deal with a situation like this. This could lead to a disastrous and unfortunate ending.

Here’s what to do if you notice someone acting suspicious in your neighborhood. First, call local law enforcement. If there is a life threatening emergency, you need to call 911 as soon as possible. Give the most accurate description you can, such as date, time, and location, followed by a brief description of the activity going on. What really helps are physical identifiers of the person you just observed and a possible description of a vehicle if there is one. If the suspicious person has left and you might know where they’ve gone or even the direction they went, reveal that as well. A 911 operator will also ask for your name and contact information.

We highly encourage keeping your neighbors in the loop of suspicious people, but don’t be a hero. Call the police to help you out.

National Police Week Begins May 15

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Police officer on the streets talking to a boy on his bike and a little girl.

During the week of May 15, thousands of law enforcement officers will gather in Washington DC to participate in a series of planned events that honor the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. According to policeweek.org, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the following week to be known as Police Week. The event has grown every year since then, and today 25,000 to 40,000 attendees, mostly family, survivors and law enforcement officers, make the annual trip to our nation’s Capital.

If you would like to support your local police officers but can’t make it to DC to attend the memorial events, you can easily show your appreciation by personally thanking a hometown police officer for their service and dedication to protecting the community. In addition, here are some other great ways to show your gratitude:

  • If you see a police officer, ask to take a photo with him or her and share it on social media with #NationalPoliceWeek and #BackSABlue.
  • Take some nice snacks like a dozen of donuts or cookies to your local police substation.
  • Write a letter to the editor or an online post about why you appreciate law enforcement.
  • If you see a police officer out at lunch or dinner, offer to pay for their meal.
  • Order BackSABlue gear from HERE and show it off during the week.
  • Donate to our outreach program, Blue Cares, HERE. Donations help fund their scholarships and food assistance programs, Blue Cares Scholarship and Project CJ.
  • And most importantly, take a moment to reflect on the law enforcement officers we have lost in the line of duty.

 

While the duties of a police officer usually go unnoticed, your appreciation for local law enforcement will not.

Have a #SafeFiesta

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two women riding horses during a San Antonio Fiesta parade

According to the San Antonio Police Department, the Fiesta celebration for 2016 saw a hike in DWI arrests over 2015. SAPD officers made a total of 233 arrests for driving while intoxicated during the span of Fiesta’s 10 day affair. That was 11 more arrests than in 2015, which isn’t a dramatic hike in arrests but still discouraging. On a more positive note, 2016 marked the fourth consecutive year without fatalities tied to Fiesta.
We can keep San Antonio’s DWI numbers down with a simple promise to not drink and drive. To help, we’ve offered some alternatives to keep you from getting behind the wheel of a car.
1. Assign a designated driver of the group.
2. Call a relative or friend to pick you up.
3. Purchase a pass for public transportation.
4. Call a cab.
5. Utilize a rideshare service.
Also remember not to walk home or ride a bike if you’ve had too much to drink – public intoxication is still a crime. And yes, buzzed driving is still drunk driving.
The San Antonio Police Officers’ Association loves our city and Fiesta just as much as everyone else does. We’re going to celebrate responsibly and safely with our friends and families, and we hope you all do too. As we do so, let’s all do our part to reverse the trend and hopefully, 2017 will see a big reduction in Fiesta-related DWI’s.
We ask that you pledge to be safe during Fiesta and not drive by using #SafeFiesta in all your Fiesta-related photos and posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. By using this hashtag, you’re promising that you will not get behind the wheel of a car even if you are buzzed. Be a responsible drinker and together we can bring down the DWI statistics in San Antonio.