Gov. Gianforte Announces Expansion of Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign, Partnership Between Town Pump and LifeGuard Group
HELENA, MT (STL.News) On the last day of Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, Governor Greg Gianforte today announced a partnership between Town Pump, the LifeGuard Group, and the State of Montana to raise awareness and put an end to human trafficking in Montana.
“Earlier this month, we brought together state and local law enforcement and nonprofit leaders to discuss strategies to end human trafficking in Montana. All of us there agreed – awareness is critical to stopping these despicable crimes and supporting victims,” Gov. Gianforte said. “With the partnership among the State of Montana, Town Pump, and the LifeGuard Group, we’re getting the word out to trafficking victims that help is there for them and it’s only a call or text away.”
“I encourage all Montana convenience stores, gas stations, hotels, restaurants, clinics, and schools to join Town Pump and others who are committed to ending human trafficking in our state,” Gov. Gianforte said.
As part of the partnership, Town Pump will display the LifeGuard Group’s human trafficking hotline in its locations in Montana, so victims can get help. Town Pump is also providing a $30,000 grant to the LifeGuard Group to support the nonprofit’s work to combat human trafficking in Montana.
“Town Pump is pleased to be partnering with Governor Gianforte and state agencies to provide resources, including a grant of $30,000 to the LifeGuard Group, to raise public awareness of human trafficking in Montana,” Mike Kenneally, spokesman for Town Pump said. “We are committed to helping educate people on this issue. The more we can educate, the more we can save.”
In addition to managing Montana’s Human Trafficking Hotline, the LifeGuard Group provides classes, resources, and trainings across the state to put an end to human trafficking.
Speaking about the new partnership, founder of the LifeGuard Group Lowell Hochhalter said, “The generosity of Town Pump is overwhelming. We are filled with gratitude for their donation and Governor Gianforte’s new partnership, but also have the affirmation of the importance of this task of protecting those who may be sold or exchanged. This is an act of protection and prevention for all those in our communities.”
The governor has also directed the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) to ensure LifeGuard’s posters with the hotline are displayed in all state rest areas.
“Millions of people travel our roads and highways each year, and we want them to be extra sets of eyes to end human trafficking in Montana,” MDT Director Mack Long said. “Through the governor’s new partnership with Town Pump, we can make an even greater impact to promote awareness and help save lives.”
Since 2015, the Montana Department of Justice has tracked a 871-percent increase in human trafficking cases in Montana. Seven human trafficking cases were tracked in 2015, compared to 68 cases in 2021.
Earlier this month, the governor proclaimed January Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in Montana. Throughout January, the governor and attorney general encouraged Montanans to join the fight to end human trafficking by learning potential signs and reporting suspected activity to law enforcement.
If you suspect human trafficking, call 911 in an emergency. In non-emergency situations call 1-833-406-STOP (1-833-406-7867) or reach an advocate via 406stop.com. If you see suspected traffickers, do not intervene, and remain at a safe distance. Take pictures of the trafficker, victim, and vehicle license plate if possible.