MU commmunity forms Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition

Alex Trabold, Staff writer

Human trafficking is a serious worldwide issue, so Erie is taking charge locally to help combat the horrible business. Several community groups hoped to address human trafficking more directly through The Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition. Now, these local groups have come together with Mercyhurst to officially form a new coalition.

The Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition has recently gained the assistance of Intelligence Studies professor, Deborah Davies, Ph.D, here at Mercyhurst University. She seeks to use her experience as a former member of the CIA to help the coalition stop human trafficking.

“First of all, I knew there was an initiative to go after this issue in Erie.There was an effort to revive it by the community before I came here,” Davies said. “I knew there was a need to solve it and that I could use my skillset to help accomplish that mission.”

Davies acknowledges the challenge of the task at hand, always wanting to take a shot at something that people say is too hard to fix or achieve. Other people from various local organizations have made great contributions to this coalition, such as members from law enforcement, various victim services and the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Duncan McGill, dean of the Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences, worked alongside one of the organizing partners of the coalition, Erie Dawn Executive Director, Maureen Dunn, to set up this coalition. Their conversation was spurred by the recent events concerning human trafficking.

McGill, Bill Welch, M.S., Intelligence Studies professor, and Brad Gleason, M.S., Director of Operations, Ridge College, agreed to work with this coalition in order to use the strategic intelligence capabilities of Mercyhurst University in to defend the Erie community from human trafficking. This will not only help to keep the campus safe, but the city safe.

The Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition’s plans involve both Mercyhurst students and those who work to assist victims of human trafficking in general to cooperate more and have stronger involvement, specifically on Davies’ part.

Davies has sought to not only improve unity among the community, but also heighten student interest and involvement in how they can make a difference.

“I would say a big part of it is getting the community on the same page,” Davies said. “Educating each other on various issues and barriers blocking efforts to end human trafficking.”

Those who could benefit from better cooperation for example, are those who run victim services. They could do wonders with assistance and advice from the police, whom themselves could gain valuable intelligence from the victim services. With a united community and bolstered student involvement, stopping human trafficking becomes much more realistic. McGill also believes that this can bolster the involvement of the Intelligence Department of this university beyond the gates.

Davies has high hopes for the future of the coalition and sees potential in the assistance from those attending this university. McGill sees this as Mercyhurst and Ridge College serving their Mercy Mission -a mission that requires giving to the community and benefiting everyone.

“The community is continuing to meet, and I will be getting students involved here at Mercyhurst University in the near future,” Davies said.