Sept. 20, 2022

End Sex Trafficking And Sexual Exploitation With OUR- Director Of U.S. Law Enforcement Relations JC Holt

End Sex Trafficking And Sexual Exploitation With OUR- Director Of U.S. Law Enforcement Relations JC Holt

In this week's episode of Enduring the Badge Podcast, our guest is the Director Of U.S. Law Enforcement Relations JC Holt. In this episode, we talked about JC's mission to end sex trafficking and sexual exploitation with Operation Underground Railroad (OUR).

Operation Underground Railroad is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to shine a light worldwide on the global epidemic of child sex trafficking, and in so doing rescue more children from slavery and assist law enforcement to seek justice for those who violate children. While our focus remains on children, we assist survivors of all ages to bring them safety and healing. We place survivors on a path to recovery by partnering with vetted aftercare providers or by placing them with families.


In this week's episode of Enduring the Badge Podcast, our guest is the Director Of U.S. Law Enforcement Relations JC Holt. In this episode, we talked about JC's mission to end sex trafficking and sexual exploitation with Operation Underground Railroad (OUR). 

Operation Underground Railroad is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to shine a light worldwide on the global epidemic of child sex trafficking, and in so doing rescue more children from slavery and assist law enforcement to seek justice for those who violate children. While our focus remains on children, we assist survivors of all ages to bring them safety and healing. We place survivors on a path to recovery by partnering with vetted aftercare providers or by placing them with families.

Transcript

Hi everyone. And welcome to this week's episode of Enduring the Badge Podcast. I'm host Jerry Dean Lund, and I don't want you to miss an upcoming episode. So please hit that subscribe button. And while your phone's out, please do me a favor and give us a review on iTunes, our apple podcast. It says, Hey, this podcast has a great message and we should send it out to more people.

So please take that 30 seconds to a minute to do that review. And just maybe by doing that, it'll push this up into someone's podcast feed that really needs this message. Hey everyone, before we jump into this next episode, I want to talk to you about my personal coaching program. My personal coaching program deals with two things.

Your one is your mindset. Two is your relationships, and I want to support you in getting you to your greatest potential. Uplifting you and assisting you in self discovery and creating that connection with your significant other, that just is gonna last a lifetime. We don't want to be just moms and dads or in a relationship that's not gonna serve us and take it to the next level.

I also have a mindset program that helps you reach the mindset of success in all areas of your life and a mindset that makes you successful personally, not just on the job, but off the job as well. If you're looking to do that, please just reach out to me on any of my social media platforms or go to the end during the badge website.

And there you'll find a little red icon at the bottom. That's a microphone and you can leave me a voice message there. So don't hesitate to reach out to me. My very special guest today is JC Holt. He came on the show as a police officer, and now we're gonna touch on. How that transition looks like from going to a police officer, to working for a nonprofit and how he's still out there making a difference.

And that company that he's working for is operation underground railroad, an incredible nonprofit company that is going after those in sex trafficking, child pornography, world, the exploitation of children, and a whole host of other things. Let's jump into this episode with JC and talk about these issues that are being faced worldwide and how you can help them JC tell the audience a little bit about yourself and then why you move from law enforcement to O U R.

Yeah, for sure. Thank you for having me on the show. Uh, my name is JC Holt. Uh, as, as Jerry mentioned, I worked for operation underground railroad currently, but in my previous life, I spent 20 years in law enforcement where as a police officer, and it was a great career. I retired in March of 2021. So I'm fairly recently retired about a year and a half.

And I just gotta tell you that it's great. It's great. Have a job, have a life beyond the badge, if you, and, uh, I, I think for me, I, I retired young, so I started the profession young and I retired young. I was 40. I was 41 years old when I retired. If you can believe that. So I was 20 and I'm now I'm giving myself my, my age with that's.

OK. Um, I started the career at age 21 and always just said, if I got an opportunity at a different job or a career at the end of the 20 years that I would take it. And that opportunity came up for me literally right on the nose. And so I just took a risk and, and got out. And thus far it's been, uh, it's been a good ride.

It's been a little bit of a wild ride and quite an adjustment for me personally, but it's been a very good thing. So yeah, that adjustment is kind of leaving some of your brothers and sisters behind to do something different. Yeah. I, you know, when I left the field of law enforcement, I was surprised how emotional it was for me.

I think, uh, there were days when I, you know, I came to work and I'm like, oh, I'm, I'm so tired of this crap. I'm tired of the, the same old going to the same calls. Um, I'm tired of the, the family disturbances, you know, the disputes, the complaints against my officers that I supervised. It just got so old. And then when I left, I just really started to identify personally how much that job was ingrained in me and how much it meant to me personally.

And it, it was true. I felt as if I were leaving a family behind and I struggled with some pretty intense feelings of guilt and remorse, frankly, where I just felt like I was bowing out of a fight. Uh, and I, I never, I know that sounds goofy for people that aren't in the profession, but it felt a little bit like a battle every day, a little bit like a fight.

You know, we go out every day, we serve, we protect and to walk away from that and hang up your badge, you know, essentially you're done. You're, you're, you're not involved in that fight anymore to that level. And I just felt a little bit guilty, especially given the fact that I left at a, at a very tumultuous time in law enforcement still is somewhat tumultuous with the, um, You know, the defund, the police movement, bull crap, and some of the other stuff that was going on, there were a lot of people leaving when I left.

And so I just, in some ways I felt like a coward. I felt, what, what am I doing? You know, why am I getting out of this? So, but I've definitely missed the relationships. I've missed the people. And I will say this, even though I'm very grateful for this new adventure and new job, and it's a very close knit group.

It's just not the same. It's not the same as having brothers and sisters and law enforcement, first responders that you're there with every day, uh, you know, taking risk with because it's your job, uh, having each other's backs, all of those things, that rapport, that camaraderie is just so unique to the profession.

And I do miss that for. Yeah. Yeah. I, I can understand what you're saying. I haven't left yet, but I can definitely understand those emotions. Um, I'm sure I'm gonna have some of those. Um, even when I think about retiring, I, I, I have some of those emotions, uh, yeah, already, and they're, they're very similar to, to the emotions you have as, as well.

So JC, excuse me, you left the police world, but you're still kind of involved with the, the police world with your new, uh, with your new direction and opportunity at OUR. Tell every everybody about what OER is and what your title is there. Yeah, for sure. So OER operation underground railroad is a, it's a nonprofit organization.

It's based out of salt lake city, Utah area. And, uh, the company was founded in 2013, 2014, late 2013 by a man named Tim Ballard. And he was a former, uh, H well, what we would call now an HSI agent. It, that, that agency's changed its names a few times it's it was customs. It was border, you know, it was ice. It was a bunch of different things, but he was a federal agent worked down on the border and worked human trafficking and child exploitation cases.

He started this organization really. It's a nonprofit that supports the effort to fight and eradicate human trafficking, child exploitation, um, with an emphasis on women and children. What the statistics tell us with trafficking cases and, and particularly sex trafficking, which seems to be this area of focus for us.

Most of the victims are women and children. Um, I had done some work with this group for many years during my career, uh, that involved traveling to south and central America, even Mexico to do some undercover work with different agencies and, and police groups down there that were also fighting this effort.

Um, we embedded with some of their units that were there and got them Intel that they, you know, were not able to get just due to the fact, unfortunately that for some of this sex, tourism and sex traveling, the, the guys that are doing it, you know, they look like me.  they're white Western males. And so it was just a matter of, of that.

And then having some investigative skills, but UR is a global company now, uh, we're in many different countries and really, if I could summarize what we do, we, we work with. All and any who are invested in fighting against human trafficking and exploitation. And that could be labor trafficking, sex trafficking, uh, the exploitation stuff.

We live in a digital age where it's so easy to exploit other people online for these perpetrators that are doing it. So we work with government and state officials, local officials. We work with other non-government organizations that are also invested in this other nonprofits. And my particular role at the company right now is, is I'm our director of us law enforcement relations.

And so I am, I have a team of, of people that work with me and we work closely with, uh, law enforcement agencies across the United States in all 50 states. And really we run sort of a grant program with them, where we fund tools and equipment and training that they need to, uh, to work against this type of crime.

So in particular, we focus a lot on the ICA teams, the internet crimes against children teams across the nation. They're the, they are the specialty units that, that are protecting our most vulnerable, our children. And. They there's a lot of equipment needs. There's a lot of, there's a lot of things that they need that they're not getting funding through through regular avenues.

And so we're able to come in and supplement that and also work with those that, that are really good at this cross, the nation that train tactics, investigative techniques, tools, and work with them to provide or sponsor the training for the officers to stay up to speed with the, you know, the ongoing trends that these criminals are using to exploit people.

Yeah. That's a, that's a pretty big, pretty big job. And that's amazing that it's a global operation. So on these operations, when you go to south America or something like that, you don't have any, uh, like you don't have any rights there, right? You're not, you don't have any law enforcement rights. No, no, it was, it was a super unique experience to, to travel to other countries and work with law enforcement in this effort.

And, you know, depending on where we went, the asks were different. Uh, most of the work that I was involved in wa was intelligence gathering really, uh, working in certain areas, certain bars or spots where we law enforcement had vetted intelligence that they were moving, or, you know, using in particular young girls or teenagers, adolescents that they were, they were pimping out for sex to tourists that were coming in.

And so, you know, we had a whole scheme of techniques that we used to get in there to try to determine if that was going on, share the information back with law enforcement and then assist them in putting together their criminal investigations through that intelligence that we gathered. And then in some cases I was involved in a few rescue efforts where there were operational things that, you know, we met had bad guys come to meets.

And the law enforcement officers that were there came and took 'em down and arrested 'em and, and then began that court process to get them held accountable for what they were doing. So very unique experience. We, I had no law enforcement authority or power. Um, you know, I wa I didn't really do it for the money.

There wasn't a lot of money in it, to be honest with you at all, it, it was almost like volunteer. And I just saw that these guys were doing this, and I thought, you know, I, I've always tried to do important things in my life, you know, that are meaningful. And even if they're scary, And so I, I viewed this as one of those opportunities and I think a lot of people are like, you're crazy.

What are you doing? I mean, and it, and it was, it, it felt a little crazy at the time, but I feel, you know, it's probably some of the most meaningful work that I've been able to do in my professional career. It was rewarding and it was also extremely uncomfortable for me. I mean, I don't speak Spanish. Um, you know, and I think, you know, me fairly well.

I'm not a, I'm not a world traveler kind of a guy. I, I don't mind just staying home to be honest with you. I feel very comfortable at home with those that I, around me that I love and appreciate it without having to go off and get some great adventure, but I also enjoy serving people and I just viewed it as an opportunity to.

Yeah. And we still have, we still have undercover groups that are doing very similar things right now, all across the world. I don't do that anymore, um, for a plethora of reasons, but I did have a season where that was me and I got to go out and experience some of that. And it was really awesome. So yeah, I'm sure that would, would be a little bit scary traveling to these countries where no law enforcement powers.

And if something happens to you, what, what happens. Yeah, I don't know. It, it, it's not good. Uh, you know, we did work in tandem with the us government as well with, uh, with top levels there, we would let them know where we were and things like that. We obviously took precautionary measures. I, I speak of this very haphazardly, but it was very planned.

It was very coordinated. And we had, uh, very vetted law enforcement units that were there that were taking care of us as well. Um, you know, I, I would just share one example. I, I was working in Columbia. And we were working with the Columbia national police on coordinating and gathering some Intel for them on a, on a human trafficking rank that that was occurring.

And they took such great care of us. I mean, they had assigned us top cover. We had officers in close proximity to us, armed officers a lot of the time. And so we weren't in there just all on our own doing our own thing. Absolutely not. I mean, we were there serving at the pleasure of their government and ask and coordinating very closely with them and what they would like us to do.

Again, things that, that they couldn't get into places they couldn't get into merely because they, they didn't have a white face. You know, they didn't look like the, the Western or American male that was typically there doing things like that. And I mean, how sad is that, that you know, that we fit, that I fit a profile like that, that we have men.

In the United States or Canada or in the west that are traveling to some of these countries and indulging in that it, it it's sickening really. Uh, it's not a, it's not one of these things that you're proud of that you fit into that mold, but it is a great investigative technique or tool to have if, if you're trying to, to get in and get that Intel.

Yeah. Why did Tim Ballard see a need for this? You know, in my mind, in, in what he speaks of is there were so many lines of red tape within government in terms of what could be done and how you can help. And he started this movement to overcome some of those red tape obstacles, not to work outside boundaries of, or do crazy things, but to be able to have more ease, to, to get in quicker, to take care of things quicker.

Uh, one of the things that he talks. Is he, he, when he encountered this type of thing, when he worked for the government, he could only work cases that had that us nexus. And, you know, unfortunately that eliminates a lot of people that need help a lot of cases. And so that's some of the red tape that I speak of that he spoke of is just the ability to help anybody and everybody, whether there's a us nexus or not, they're a victim of a crime.

They're a victim of human trafficking of expectation and getting, getting, uh, the ability to be able to be there and not have those limitations. To carry through. So, and honestly, there is such a demand for help in this area. I mean, human trafficking, according to several different web platforms and you can research this, this is not a, a stat from O R it is a industry that generates around 150 billion per year.

Um, that is a huge number. Yeah. And, and so that gives you a little bit of the complexity of the, the problem. Um, you know, not all of that includes sex trafficking. That's a portion of sex trafficking is a portion of the hundred 50 billion. But when you talk about a number like that, there, there is. There's a lot of work to be done.

There's a huge need. So, yeah. Yeah. And this sex trafficking just doesn't happen in. South America. I mean, we talked about your, how your over local local, we'll say United States operations and helping their funding and granting. Uh, so this is a, like you said, a global problem, but this is happening right here in the United States all the time.

It is, I mean, some of the myths of human trafficking really are, you know, and I, and I have a list of them here, knowing that we would talk about this. Cause some of, some of the things, according to the, uh, department of Homeland security, by the way, so that this is their list of some of the myths, uh, that it doesn't occur in the United States.

We know that's not true. Uh, that victims are only foreign board nationals. We know that's not true. It only involves sex trafficking. We also know that's not true. I mean, I live in Utah. There was a case about a year ago. I, I wanna say it was last of July. Here in just Northern Utah, there was a human traffick hearing that was busted up by our attorney General's office, that involved a traveling, um, theme park.

You know, that the theme parks, they set up on the 4th of July, where they come in and, and this group was trafficking individuals. And then using them for labor trafficking, you know, that were foreign, born foreign born individuals. Um, there's a myth that it involves mostly forced to be sex. Traffick it's not true.

Uh, trafficking and smuggling are the same thing. Also not true. You know, there's a difference between those two words and that also, we, we just assume that if I think people want to dis discount that it happens saying, well, if it happened, the people involved would get help. Right. But it's just, it's just not that way.

The. The way in which these traffickers manipulate, gain trust and coerce these people to do things. These aren't people that are just running to the police to report this stuff. But yes, we have the officers that I talk to in states all across the nation and that my team talks. One of the common themes.

They all have a human trafficking problem. They all have a child exploitation problem. And they're, you know, they're fighting that fight every day. Uh, and their resources are limited. And I mean, let's face it. The department that I retired from, uh, mid-sized department for the state, you know, mid, mid to large size hundred and 25 officers.

I think we had one officer assigned to the IAC team, um, that worked in the whole valley. And there, there might have been eight or 10 officers on that team. And as a whole serving over a million people and you know, those that were working on child crimes, which I worked in that unit for a while, uh, for about five years there, there were eight of us and only about four specialized in child crimes.

The rest were doing other stuff. So what does that tell you? You know, if you're ignoring a problem and saying it doesn't exist, Of course, it's easy to say, oh yeah, we don't have that here in the us. Right. But we do know that it's happening right here. It is. It's it's right under our noses. Yeah. So I heard, and I'm not sure if this is true, but like at large events, like I heard something about like the super bowl, um, just generally around that time, around that area, there's a largest number of people being sex trafficked.

There, there can be. Yes. And I mean, if you think about it, it makes sense at most of the, the trafficking, the sex trafficking can involve an event or a party, if you will. And you know, the super bowl is a big party. Right. But it, it is a big event for, for us every year. I think, you know, if you're a football fan, even if you're not, you look forward to it because it's a day, you know, or we celebrate that day in the United States, it's a big event.

And so people equate that big event partying with sex. And so it does create sometimes an environment where we see an increase in that, that day of, um, surprisingly enough, well, it's not surprising, but some of the jurisdictions around the United States that even have legalized prostitution, they see an increase or up to of human trafficking cases in those jurisdiction.

And, you know, everybody wants to know why, well, you've already, it's, A's a sex trade, right? Yeah. Yeah. You've already legalized to some form with certain limitations. Right. And then there are other people that it's a very profitable business as we discussed about. So it's always, how do we make more money?

How do we make more? And, you know, you, you make more by providing something that somebody else doesn't have, which is now we get into, you know, all of the things trafficking wise that can, can do that. And. We also just assume too, you know, that we we've gotta re return and, and reco some of these phrases that we use.

I mean, you heard that you hear the word sex worker. Yeah. Um, I mean, are we really assuming that everybody that is involved in, in sex work, if you wanna call it that a trade that they're there by choice? I mean, do people wake? I know there are some, I don't wanna discount that, but do we assume that everybody that decides to be in a sex trade profession to make ends meet that they're there because they want to be there?

I mean, do they wake up and say, I want to go have sex with 20 different guys today that I don't even know to make money. Right. I mean, to me that doesn't seem very reasonable, that that doesn't seem normal to me. And I, I gauge, I've always gauged normal. If you ask 10 people on the screen, How they felt and nine of them gave you the same answer.

Like, no, I wouldn't do that. That, that would be pretty normal to me. And so, you know, the way that we even view it at times, uh, I think discounts that it's happening under our noses. And so it's worth thinking about it's worth mentioning to just, you know, recalibrate the way that the outlooks regarding the, the things that we see, the signs, the key indicators surrounding this issue.

Yeah. And Utah is a very religious state, I would say, and very dominated by for the most part one religion, and that has strong morals and, and values. And there's still a ton of sex trafficking here in just within our, the state of Utah. There there is. I mean, it, this is a, this is something that does not respect boundaries.

It does not respect ethnicity. Um, it does not respect religion. It does not respect gender and, and all of those things. So it can be anywhere and everywhere and affect all classes and incomes and, and types of people. We do know, uh, from the statistics that, you know, poverty is, is closely aligned with it.

So those that are impoverished, uh, typically are at a much higher rate of being exploited or trafficked because they're, they're more willing to take risks to, to make money, right. To make things meet. Um, in particular we've, we've worked in countries over in the middle east, uh, these countries that are war torn and, you know, have civil unrest and you have people that are fling their country.

Uh, I, I would use Syria as an example, you know, Syria is a country that has been through just so much turmoil in the last several decades. And we've had millions of people flee from that country to go elsewhere, to make ends meet they're impoverished. And in particular, we know that several groups in the European nations have used that to their advantage.

They've recruited people that are from Syria for work and said, Hey, you know, come up here, work in the hospitality industry. We'll, we'll start a new life for you. And these people in good faith are like, yeah, I, I I've gotta go do this. I need to do something. They get there. Their passports are taken away from 'em, uh, they're, they're forced to work, you know, 15, 16 hour days they're paid very minimally for what they're doing.

They don't speak the language. They have no way to get themselves out of the situation. That's human trafficking. And, and that happens all the time. I mean, it is estimated right now today that there are nearly 40 million people that are enslaved wow. In one way, shape or form across the world. That's a huge number, you know, and again, these are not numbers that, that operation underground railroad just pulled out of the sky.

You can research these on a variety of platforms and to think that we have 40 million people today en slave, I, I mean, that's a, that's a huge population of people, you know? Yeah. Across the world. I, I thought about that when, uh, the war broke out in Ukraine and you see all the women and children fleeing to other countries, and I had wondered like how much of impact that was going to have on the human trafficking.

And I, I, I would imagine it, it was probably tremendous. It, it is, you know, these guys are they're opportunists, criminals are opportunists. They they'll take opportunity when it comes up and different natural disasters, uh, war certain things definitely create that opportunity back when Haiti had the, the huge earthquake that just decimated that country, uh, there was a huge uptick in human trafficking in that region of the world of, of primarily, as you said, women and children, children in particular.

So many people died as that. Involved in that. Right? Many of these were parents of these kids. Yeah. And all of these false orphanages were set up and, and kids were brought in and they were, they were used for a variety of purposes, sold illegally to other people. You know, they didn't all end up in great hands.

I don't wanna say every one of them didn't because some probably did, but yes. I mean, the Ukraine thing is definitely comes to mind and, and we were involved in that region and effort providing effort and support for those that were fighting that over there, we were directly involved on the ground and, and there was, there was an uptick of it.

It's, it's accurate to say. Yeah. So for Tim to start something of this magnitude that couldn't have been easy. No, you know, he started it in his garage. If you can believe it with one employee, one guy that was crazy enough to, to join his vision. And the company has since grown. I mean, we've, we've had a tremendous year of growth last year, for example, the position that I have right now, it didn't exist 18 months ago.

Uh, I, I hired on and, and sort of was tasked with building and starting this aspect of the program. And it it's, you know, we're, we have 130 employees now and it's still not enough. We, we, we are we're, we're not limited. Work. We have so much work. We're always limited with resources, right on what we can do with what we have.

We are in nonprofits. So I mean, uh, everything we do comes through the hands of donor donors and donations that come in from people that support us. Um, but yes, we are a bigger company. Now we have departments that most other companies would have. You know, we have an it department, we have an accounting department, we have marketing, you know, we have several aspects or arms of operations.

Uh, we have a, a very large, robust aftercare team. One of the things that we know is there is no rescue of people without aftercare services. I mean, if you can't provide aftercare or some type of therapeutic approach to people that have suffered with. You're really not doing anything right. It's yeah, it really is the first step in helping people.

And so we have, we have a department that does nothing but that, you know, we have a store, the, the, the company has a store where we sell, um, these hats, like the hat that I'm wearing in shirts and, and other things that help funder cause and purpose. So, yeah, that's a, that's a takes a grand on the grand scale of things.

It's still, you have to operate this like a, like a business, you mean on, on your end of things. And I could see how aftercare would be so important because if you don't have that aftercare. I would imagine most people would just fall back into that same trap. Yeah. I mean, the recidivism rate is high anyway.

Right? It it's like anything else. I, I think, uh, again, we're back to the myth when we think of human trafficking, uh, and in particular sex trafficking, Hollywood, hasn't done us any favors on painting. What that looks like. I mean, I think most people might think of the movie taken, you know, where. A a girl and, and those cases happen by the way, I don't want to discount that, but they are, they are rare compared to how it usually works.

Um, so it's not this thing where somebody's taken and just completely kidnapped. You know, these are people that are, that it's small choices that get 'em there. Right? And a lot of it has to do with poverty. Some of it has to do with the fact that they trusted the wrong person. You know, there was a person of position of, of trust and authority that manipulated them and then coerced them and got them involved.

There's so many layers of this where, uh, substance abuse can be a factor for sure. Yeah. Right. Those that are substance abuse dependent that are willing to do whatever they need to, to get the next place. And that person supplying them with, with. I mean, there's just so many things that, that can hook people and get them in.

And you're right. If you don't provide good aftercare services, provide them with some skills, something that helps them to get out and be successful, that the chance of them reverting back to something that they view as taking care of them, it's high. And so it it's, it's challenging. So aftercare in particular, they work a lot like how I work within the us, uh, with law enforcement, they work in seek to empower those who are providing these services all around the world.

And they work with them on best practice and technique and trauma informed care and, and things like that. So

does some of this trafficking, is that well as organs as. It, it is unfortunately, uh, you know, the world is a gigantic place with a bunch of different cus customs and cultural. And, uh, we have worked in countries that, that are involved in child sacrifice due to weird ritualistic, cultural witchcraft. I don't even know what you call it, crazy stuff.

And, uh, some that is involved organ harvesting as well. It's, it's horrible. I mean, I'm always appalled at what humans are able and willing to do to other human beings. I mean, it it's, I, I thought that in my law enforcement career, I saw things. I've seen things now, and it's just, it's crazy sometimes what a human being can do to another human being.

And it's tragic, super tragic. Yeah, I, yeah, it, it really is. And it's, you, you do kind of see that sometimes in the movies, how tragic that is in some of the documentaries is what's OU, are they putting out a movie or a documentary or, yeah, so we have, uh, we have several documentaries that are, that are going right now, um, that have, that have happened.

You, you can watch one on Amazon right now. That's called operation two Saint. Um, and, and that's a great, that's a great documentary film that really Chronicles early days of OER. Uh, and, and Tim in particular with some of his story is involved in that one. We, there's a great documentary that is about to be released.

That is not ours, but it was done by a, a man producer by the name of Nick Naton, it's a great film. It's called it's happening, right. And we were featured in that, along with other professional groups that are working in this space to bring more awareness and education to folks, particularly Americans that it's happening right here.

Of course there is a, a Hollywood version coming out, if you will, uh, the sound of freedom, which is also a great film. It, it was, uh, it was made a couple of years ago, but with COVID and everything else that the release has been delayed, we're told that that will be released this fall, uh, that that really is, is based or inspired on events that started O R but it is a Hollywood production it's, it's got some entertainment and, and, uh, honestly shock and wow factor.

Like it's very powerful movie. Uh, that one will be up very soon, too. Um, we have another documentary that, that encapsulates some of our operations that we've done in Columbia. That's called triple take. That one is soon to be released as well. Um, one of the things that we believe in, in OER is telling the stories, um, the story.

And when I say telling stories, I don't mean telling fables or story tells, I mean, I mean, giving accounts and, and recalling what we see and what's going on to educate other people around us that there's, there's great power in telling the story to get more people involved with the cause and the issue to help them in their own ways to, to fight against it, because it's just such a large problem.

So the movies, the documentaries, they help do that. That's really the purpose behind them. That's it is to document, tell the stories and bring awareness, uh, to the complex issue that, that we're faced with in this field. Yeah. So bringing awareness to, to the situation probably also brings, um, a desire for others, not for you to exist.

It does. Um, it does. We we've definitely dealt with that a lot as of late. Uh, I feel like that our organization, our group in this space has gotten large. It's gotten big. Our, our names out there in there is a, there is definitely a, a force of good and a force of evil in this world. I believe that to my core, um, you know, being agnostic with all the viewers that you have and respectful of how everybody's beliefs are, uh, there's, there's dark and there's lights.

Yeah. And it's really hard for darkness to exist when light is present and bringing awareness and everything to, to this cause this issue, even this podcast, it brings light to the issue, which diminishes some of the darkness of it. And it is a dark topic and a dark subject, for sure. So, uh, we've faced many oppositional things in this effort.

It's not, uh, you know, our CEO often, he, he coined a phrase that I really appreciate and admire. He says, he tells our group all the time. Hey guys, we're not selling ice cream here. You know, and we're not, it's not all sunshine and rainbows at time, but the need to be optimistic and, and move forward in the work is, is paramount and you have to do it and you're gonna get naysayers.

We've had some publications that have come out, just a bunch of garbage, false things. You know, people saying that, uh, We're not doing what we're doing. People saying that we're our purposes of trying to get donations. Don't revolve around fighting the issue, but revolve around, you know, being lucrative and trying to get more money, not the case.

Um, we've had groups that have come out and discounted that we actually have human trafficking is a problem that, that we're fabricating it or making things up. And again, I'm quick to point out today, some of the stats that I've shared with you, the reason that I point out that they're sourced and they come from other places is that's important.

It's important to know that others are recognizing this, that are professional groups and that we're trying to work in tandem with them or do what we can. And, and also respect the space that we're in. I'm retired now, you know, I don't have any police authority. We don't do any investigation in the us. We don't do any reporting.

Um, we don't do any enforcement and it's not our role. Our role is to support those that do, who are our first responders that are in the field every day, but that could be police officers that can be firemen. That can be, uh, emergency room. These are, these are the people that are seeing it. I mean, it, you know, just bringing more awareness to the issues on the fire service side, you know, you go on a medical call, just being able to see things that just don't, that don't marry up is being right.

It it's all, it's all important. And it makes me think about, you know, now that I've become more attuned to this subject, as I've taken interest in it over the last eight or nine years, I, I wonder how much stuff I missed the first eight or nine years of my career, you know, like, did I see things that I didn't really marry up or equate?

Hey, that could, that, that's a little weird that situation's a little bit off. Is there something going on here that I, that I should probably look at closer? Yeah. You only get so much train as a police officer in the academy and that cannot prepare you for everything you're gonna do and see. In fact, when I went through the police academy and, and granted, it was over 20 years ago, uh, we didn't have any classes on human trafficking.

In fact, I don't even know that we were using that terminology or verbiage work at all. I mean, trafficking, what is trafficking? I mean, traffick is sitting on, in, on I 15 on my way to work. So, and then obviously with the digital age, it's just, it's just ramped everything up. I mean, COVID, didn't do us any favors in this space, you know, the, the center, one of their really quick sta I'd share with you and pull it up really quick to make sure that I don't get it wrong.

Um, but the, the national. The national child of exploitation or missing children. Um, ick is the, is the thing known, you know, in 20, there were over 29 million reports made of child sexual abuse material. Um, just in 2021 alone and 80 and over 84, almost 85 million sex abuse files were reviewed by them. And that was a huge increase from the year before.

Yeah. Which doesn't, it doesn't surprise me. We live on our phones, our kids, they live on their devices. Uh, they, they do, and it's, that's, what's bringing it into our homes. It's inevitable. I don't think that you can avoid it. A lot of parents are like, well, that's fine. I'll just take the phones away from them.

Well, they're gonna find a way. So education is key. Uh, helping them to be informed about what to watch for online is just paramount in your home because the, you know, these, these predators they're lurking online, they're trying to find people. Um, and it is just, again, huge uptick. What were we doing during COVID what it got us in this space where we were home isolated because of other things and, and bored, to be honest with you.

Yeah. And the kids have experienced that too. So what are they doing? They're on their video games. They're playing, they're playing interactive games with other people. Those interactive games have chat rooms. These predators are posing as, uh, as other players and they're playing the game with them and building relationships, building rapport.

I mean, it's just crazy. I think most parents would be shocked. To know the way in to their kids to be exploited. They, they, they have, they have no concept. Most of them. Yeah. And they're, and kids are being attacked from everywhere. Um, they are, you know, with this type of stuff. And I even see it now on just random text messages that people are sending pictures or trying to start up a, a chat, you know, with you and get you to do something or go somewhere type of thing.

Speaking of education, how can the audience educate themselves more than just this podcast and the documentaries? You know, I, I think just starting to research this on your own and, and review it is, is huge. Um, you know, you have. The world's information, grasp at your fingertips as well through researching and doing your own things.

But, um, there are some great, uh, there's some great websites out there that talk about some of these issues. Uh, you know, the federal government has has guidelines or not guidelines, but educational key points that are worth mentioning to, and going over, I always say this, know what your kids are doing. If your kids are on an app, you should be on that app and knowing how it works.

I mean, most parents and adults are intuitive enough to know and kids, I hate to break it to most parents, you know, Jerry, if I need to talk to you, I send you a text message, right. Or if I call you, yeah, that's pretty normal. We text back and. Um, kids don't necessarily do that. They text back and forth, but they use different platforms than we do.

They might use Instagram messenger. They might use a game, uh, that they play as the means of communication with a friend through the chat room, they might use Snapchat. Um, these are all things. These apps have different features in them. That that tend to be more risky. Uh, you know, for example, like Snapchat, right?

I think if you're a parent and your kids are on Snapchat, which I guarantee you, they are, even if you tell them to not be on Snapchat, they're gonna be on Snapchat. You should download Snapchat and you should be on there with them. I have two daughters right now that are on Snapchat. I, I don't think it's a great.

Uh, it's it's, you know, they can, they could take pictures of themselves, send them off. I mean, we know that Snapchat blew up is this huge sexting platform, right? Because it was viewed as anonymous and you could send a picture and it would delete and, and everything else. And, and, you know, but in particular, I was telling my girls, I didn't know this about Snapchat until I actually got a Snapchat account and I'm not good at it, but I figured a little bit out how to use it.

Uh, there's a feature on there that automatically, unless you set it to otherwise, it tracks your location and it will show others your location. So let's say that a perpetrator is playing a game with one of your kids. Let's say they're playing Roblox, very common game. That a lot of kids love to play.

They're in the chat room. The chats always start there. Uh, that chat room doesn't really provide them what they need. They can't exchange pictures. They, they, they can't, you know, it's not super private. And so they'll migrate to like an app like Snapchat. Well, now they get on there. And if the kid doesn't know that they have that feature set up, man, they have their location.

Now that's a problem. So if your kid's on an app, you should be on the app. You should figure out how it works. I communicate with my daughters on Snapchat sometimes. Uh, a lot of the time with one of my daughters, it's the primary means it drives me crazy.  I would rather use iMessage. I hate using Snapchat.

But the other thing that this does is guess what my girls know now dad has Snapchat. Dad knows how to use Snapchat. It, it, it, uh, it also puts that little thing in their mind where I'm engaging them. I'm meeting them where they're at. And I just can't emphasize that enough. I think as apparent I'm not. I'm not a great parent for sure.

I mean, I have my downfalls, but I, I really, really strive to meet my kids where they're at. They're gonna be there, whether I want 'em to be there or not. Uh, and it's, it's, it's hard. It's really hard as a parent with older kids now to meet them where they're at sometimes, because it's not where I want them to be.

Uh, I would prefer them to just not even be on Snapchat, but, you know, there are things that are beyond my control. They have agency, they have choices. And so I need to educate myself on this. Uh, too many parents have their heads in the sand. They don't know what's going on with their kids online. Um, be nosy, poke around, ask 'em, uh, we kind of, we have a policy at our house.

If, could you hand me your phone right now? And I can review things on the phone and you're, there's nothing to hide. And if you can't, then we need to make some adjustments. Let's figure this out. And then, you know, I talk to my kids about. The exploitation can happen, um, share stories with them so that they know, uh, and talk about it.

Just have open dialogue instead of like, Hey, you're bored, go get on your iPad and leave me alone. You know, because there are days like that too, where you're like, you know, I, I just, can you just go play your video game for a minute? Like, I, I need to rest, I wanna just sit on the couch and just de compressed, especially amongst the audience that listens to this podcast.

First responders. Yeah. Hey, you know what? I get it when I was in that profession, especially there were times I needed to just come home and just, nobody talked to me, please. Just, I just need to sit here for a minute and just feel better. Yeah. Yeah. Be in the space where you can, like you said, decompress it, which is means sometimes just being quiet and being alone and trying to get that is, can be really tough.

Yes indeed. So how did people fund OER? Like how can people get involved in the, in the funding aspect of this. Yeah. Uh, that's a great question. Thank you. You can, you can get on our website, which is OU R or our rescue. So two rs.org, and there's a, there's a variety of things you can read about us on there with all the projects that we have going all the different divisions you can, you can donate online.

There. That's primarily what we have is online donations. Um, any, any amount helps to be honest with you, uh, 60, you know, 60 plus percent or so of our donations on how we function our, our everyday working people that give us a few bucks a month. You know, maybe it's five bucks a month, maybe it's 10 bucks a month.

Um, it, it makes a difference and we really, really strive hard to make that dollar that we get go as far as possible. Um, we, we run pretty lean, you know, if you can believe it, we, I I've spoken of my department. I just have a handful of employees. I don't have a big, robust, uh, division. We, we do more with less because that's what you do when you work for a nonprofit, you, you try to do more with less so you can donate online, uh, is, is the best source.

Um, we also are, are getting a program through Amazon through Amazon's smile, actually, where you can, you can use us as a charity on Amazon's smile. That's great. If you go into Amazon and you have to set that up manually before, and there's different organizations that you can pick from. So when you buy something off of Amazon, a portion can go towards our cause.

Uh, that's set up, we have a store online that we have really cool t-shirts and hats and other things. Yeah. We also partner with some of the bigger name brand groups. Uh, we provide exclusives at times. You know, we had a deal recently was very popular. You could, you could buy a Minky blanket that had an OER insignia on it.

And we got a portion of the funds from that. That's a way for other companies that we work with to, uh, to do that for the first responders. Um, I don't know how many of you are watch guys. I mean, I'm kind of a watch guy. I like my. My tactical looking watch, you know, uh, we just recently did a, a project with Rockwell watches.

That's here in Utah's great brand, great company. They, they put our logo on one of their, their primary signature watches that they sell a lot to first responders. They've done projects with wounded warrior with under arm or other groups and, uh, your proceeds that, that we can make on that watch, they go directly to our cause to our mission funds.

So just a lot of different ways, um, to get involved. And I just want everybody to know that that donates how much we appreciate the, the donations and how much of a difference it makes. And we try to be very transparent in the way that we use those funds through telling stories and updating people with, Hey, this is what we got going on.

This is what we did recently. Um, you'll see a lot of those updates. It's important to us to do that, to show people how we're being stewards of the funds that we're given. Yeah. Do you think wearing some of that merch, you know, with the UR on it, um, maybe has some deterrent for people that maybe in the sex trafficking area?

I don't know. You know, I don't know. I guess if we assume that that people in the sex trafficking area, you know, see us wearing it, if it deters them, I, I don't know. That's a G it's a great question. Uh, I definitely see a lot of our merch in Utah. We have a lot of Utah supporters. I think we're known here and, and, uh, I've been surprised even traveling.

I've traveled extensively in the United States over the last 18 months. And of course I'm wearing it all the time. I work here, but I've had so many people in other states come up to me and say, Hey, I know your cause. I appreciate it. I donate, thank you for the work that you're doing. And that's pretty awesome to be able to, to do that.

And so, yes, it does give you a chance if you're wearing that shirt. If I'm wearing a shirt that says, oh, you are rescue or a hat and somebody asks you go to dinner. Hey, what does that mean? Well, let me tell you about it. It's a group, it's a company. This is their mission. This is their purpose. Again, that's part of that spreading awareness of what we're doing and make no mistake about it.

We're not trying to dominate this space. We're not, uh, we're, we're trying to be impactful in the space. And so we don't want to dominate the anti-trafficking world or organizations. This is a collective team effort that if we don't collaborate together, we, we're not likely to have great success. We're just not, it's too big of a problem.

So, yeah, I, I know as I wear some of the, the merchandises in you'll pass somebody that's wearing an another OER shirt or hat and something like that, they generally like either wave to you or say, Hey, nice hat, nice shirt. Like they make some, some contact with you. So I think that definitely is spreading the awareness.

It does. And in particular, the, the store is awesome because we're able to take the money that we, and the merchandise is not, it's not terribly expensive, to be honest with you. It's great quality stuff for, at a pretty low cost, very comfortable. T-shirt, it's very soft cotton. Um, you know, the hats are nice.

I'm a hat guy. I get snobby about. We kind of hat I'll wear. Um, I was gonna wear my enduring, you know, end entering the batch flag today that I have, cause it's good stuff too. But, um, it, it's not really expensive the cost and, and you know, you're able to spread awareness for other people, but in particular, the, the funds that we generate in the store go a hundred percent towards running the company.

You know, we use those funds to help offset and make payroll, stuff like that. So that the funds that we bring in are completely freed up. So we're not having to spend it on business expenses. Uh, we can go total, total donation mode, you know, and we, we do pretty well. Our ratio of what goes out that comes in is very high for a nonprofit.

I mean, it's, we're, we're striving to get higher, but it's, it's generally always north of 70%, which is pretty impressive. It's awesome. And, and, you know, it's important that people know that because there's a lot of false dialogue out there that say otherwise, I mean, I mean, listen, I know everybody that works here, nobody that's working here is getting rich.

you know, everybody that's working here is invested in this, cause they're here to serve they're here because they know that this is an important issue and they want to do something to make an impact or dent on it. And that's the kind of company that we have. That's the kind of environment, which for me is a close second to law enforcement.

Um, yeah. And it's been, it's been rewarding and fulfilling and it's also tiring in the same way.  its, uh, I've struggled with that a little bit, you know, where I'm like, I, I thought, I always thought when I retired, I joked around that I was gonna have a job that was, um, you know, a, a thoughtless job, right?

Like in my mind, the best job I could have, I'd love to like mow the lawns at a golf course. With my earbuds in, but that's not gonna pay the bills, you know? So, um, I continue to serve, which is, it's a great opportunity and my, my privilege to be able to do so. Yeah. Yeah. It's been great having you on and sharing your company's vision and your experience and how we can better prepare ourselves, uh, to look for, you know, these type of situations I know in my career, uh, which is mainly, you know, as a firefighter and paramedic, most of the time I've seen it.

There I've, we've had cases where we've like, that's, something's not right. And been able to, you know, pass that on to the proper authorities to have that looked at. So the education, you know, you can't, you can't ever, ever over educate yourself enough about this because they're always gonna be trying to right.

Change up their systems, Dodge, Dodge being caught. Yep. Yeah. It's no different than any other criminal element, right? They're they grow, they adapt to operate in the shadows, operate in the darkness and, and it's our job to cast light on the issue, right. To try to, to get that. And we're thankful for the opportunity to be on your podcast and be represented and honestly, great podcast.

Obviously, I'm, I'm a fan. Uh, I've been on the podcast before, and I just think the topics and issues that are raised on here are of great value to those that wear the badge and those that support those that wear the badge. It's a huge deal. And it, it gives some great insight and understanding into some of the challenges that are, that exist around that profession.

And it also helps to, uh, for anybody in the general public to be able to have that insider view as well. So it's, it's always great to, uh, to talk about things like that. So, yeah. Yeah. JC, is there any social media that people can follow? You know, we're pretty much on everything. Uh, we have a TikTok account, if you can believe that, that you can, that you can follow again, meet people where they're at.

Right. Right, right. Um, so we have a TikTok account. We have an Instagram account. Uh we're on Facebook, we're on LinkedIn. Uh, we're on Twitter. So pretty much if you search operation underground railroad, look for the official account, usually it's, you know, OU are rescue is our, is our, is our, uh, handle on most of those, you can follow along.

That's a great place to have transparency and view what we're doing and seeing, and trying to provide insights. And we, we do that very regularly. We're very active on social media, uh, all the time. So. Awesome. Thank you, JC so much for being on. All right. Thank you so much.

Thanks again for listening. Don't forget to rate and review the show forever. You access your podcast. If you know someone that would be great on the show, please get a hold of our hosts. Jerry Dean L through the Instagram handles at Jerry fire and fuel or at enduring the badge podcast. Also by visiting the show's website, Endur the badge podcast.com for additional methods of contact and up to date information regarding the show.

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