On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
66°
Mostly Clear
H 67° L 51°
  • cloudy-day
    66°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Clear. H 67° L 51°
  • clear-night
    57°
    Evening
    Mostly Clear. H 67° L 51°
  • cloudy-day
    53°
    Morning
    Partly Cloudy. H 77° L 55°
Listen
Pause
Error

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Jacksonville police working to fight human trafficking, rescues 47 victims in last 2 years
Close

Jacksonville police working to fight human trafficking, rescues 47 victims in last 2 years

Jacksonville police working to fight human trafficking, rescues 47 victims in last 2 years

Jacksonville police working to fight human trafficking, rescues 47 victims in last 2 years

Dozens of women and children in Jacksonville were rescued from the horrors of human trafficking last year.

But local advocates fear there are hundreds of others on our streets who can’t escape.

Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole attended a conference today where local leaders talked about what they are doing to reach victims.

Sheriff Mike Williams said the key is educating the public.

The common misconception is victims are being driven in, or flown in from other states.

But Williams told Action News Jax they were able to save 38 victims right here in Jacksonville in 2018, and three of them were juveniles.

They also made 36 human trafficking-related arrests in 2018.

In 2017, they were able to save nine victims and make five arrests.

Antonio Griffin.

Roosevelt Glee.

Vincent Vanover.

These are just three of the 36 arrests made for human trafficking in Jacksonville in 2018.

Sheriff Mike Williams said JSO’s  Integrity Special Investigations Unit is dedicated to human trafficking cases.

But looking into the modern-day form of slavery is a challenge, because it's often hidden in plain sight.

"The more we dig, the more resources we put into it, the more cases we find,” said Sheriff Mike Williams.

Once victims are rescued, Kristin Keen says the key to keeping them safe is giving them access to a new job and a new community.

“Our hunch is that there are hundred of hundreds of women that need help, they just don't have access to it yet,” Keen told Courtney Cole.

For the last seven years, Keen as used Rethreaded as a way to give that  access to as many women as she can.

The organization helps survivors by providing them with long-term employment and mental health services.

“We've worked with over 40 women...[they] were all trafficked in Jacksonville. We currently employee 15 women and we have a waiting list of 15 women,” Keen said.

Shopping at Rethreaded is one of the easiest ways you can help fight against trafficking.

Everything in the store is made by survivors.

When Cole asked Keen how she thinks we can ultimately end human trafficking, she said cutting back on demand is the key.

“Traffickers want to sell people because they want to make money. So if we can reduce demand and no one was buying human beings—that's really how we're going to end human trafficking,” said Keen.

When it comes to protecting your children from human trafficking, JSO shared this useful information with Action News Jax: 

"What is most important to understand is that children and adults alike can be susceptible on any website, mobile application or gaming system that allows for the ability to chat. Users, as well as parents of those users should be aware that predators do not stop at just sex and/or dating websites or apps."

Tips for the kids and teens would include, but are not limited to:

  • Making sure your parents know when you are online and what you are doing.   
  • Never give out any personal information to anyone in chat rooms, apps or on social media.   
  • Never send a picture to anyone over the internet without your parent’s permission.

Tips for parents would include:

  • Know what your children are doing online.   
  • Actively research child internet safety and have an open discussion with your kids on the topic.   
  • Take advantage of internet filters and other technology that will block inappropriate websites.   
  • Be leery of smartphones that allow kids unrestricted access to the internet outside of their parents presence and the ability to communicate with strangers.
Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will ask Thursday for the drafting of articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. >> Read more trending news  Update 12 p.m. Dec. 5: President Donald Trump slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday after she announced the House will move forward with articles of impeachment against him. “Nancy Pelosi just had a nervous fit,” Trump said. “She hates that we will soon have 182 great new judges and sooo much more.”  Pelosi told reporters Thursday that the president’s actions since being sworn into office left Democrats with “no choice but to act.” Pelosi previously declined to pursue articles of impeachment against Trump, but she said Thursday that the surfacing of a whistleblower complaint filed against Trump over the summer changed her mind. The whistleblower in August filed a complaint about concerns over Trump’s attempts to get Ukrainian officials to investigate one of his political rivals, former vice president and 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden. Update 11:45 a.m. Dec. 5: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is speaking with reporters after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that the House will move forward with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Update 11 a.m. EST Dec. 5: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is speaking with reporters after announcing earlier Thursday that the House plans to move forward with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Counsels for Republicans and Democrats will present impeachment evidence Monday at a 9 a.m. hearing, according to Politico and Axios. The Judiciary Committee will also hold a hearing to mark up the articles of impeachment, according to Axios. Update 9:50 a.m. EST Dec. 5: Officials with President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign slammed the decision announced Thursday morning by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to draft articles of impeachment against Trump. “The facts are uncontested,” Pelosi said at a news conference Thursday morning. “The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security.” Marc Lotter, director of strategic communications for Trump’s 2020 campaign, said in a tweet that Democrats decided to impeach the president “over ‘feels’ not ‘facts.'” Campaign manager Brad Parscale accused Democrats of trying to “take the decision of who should be president out of the hands of voters.” “Impeaching the President has always been their goal, so they should just get on with it so we can have a fair trial in the Senate and expose The Swap for what it is,” he said. “Speaker Pelosi, Chairman (Adam) Schiff, and Hunter Biden should testify, and then we can get back to the business of our country.” Democrats have been building a case for impeachment against Trump based on his decision to ask Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of several Democrats vying for the 2020 presidential nomination. Trump has denied any wrongdoing. Update 9:30 a.m. EST Dec. 5: White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats “should be ashamed” after the California politician announced plans to move forward with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.  “(Trump) has done nothing but lead our country - resulting in a booming economy, more jobs & a stronger military, to name just a few of his major accomplishments,” Grisham wrote Thursday morning in a tweet. “We look forward to a fair trial in the Senate.” Pelosi said Thursday morning that Trump’s decision to ask Ukraine for an investigation into his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, were “a profound violation of public’s trust.” “The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of national security by withholding military aid and crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival,” she said. Update 9:20 a.m. EST Dec. 5: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday morning that the House will move forward to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. “The facts are uncontested,” she said at a news conference Thursday morning. “The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security.” The announcement came one day after House Democrats held a closed-door meeting on impeachment, according to Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree. The House Judiciary Committee also held its first hearing Wednesday on impeachment. “Our democracy is what is at stake,” Pelosi said Thursday. “The president leaves us no choice but to act.” The historic announcement came as Democrats push toward a vote, possibly by Christmas. Original report: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will give an update Thursday morning on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The California Democrat plans to make the announcement from the Speaker’s Balcony Hallway at 9 a.m. EST. On Wednesday, the impeachment inquiry moved to the House Judiciary Committee as three of four law professors considered experts in impeachment from across the country testified they believe Trump’s action toward Ukraine constitutes bribery. The three professors – Pamela Karlan, Noah Feldman and Michael Gerhardt – were called by the Democrats. The fourth professor testifying Wednesday, Jonathan Turley, called by Republicans, did not agree. House Democrats launched the inquiry in September to investigate whether Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter, and their connection to a Ukrainian energy company in exchange for an invitation to the White House and a military aid package. Read more here or here. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • An Oklahoma man was arrested this week on two different felony charges after investigators say he knowingly transmitted HIV to at least two victims. >> Read more trending news  Court papers state Benjamin Whitney had consensual sex with the victims and didn’t tell them he had HIV. In one case, the victim reportedly said Whitney explicitly told him he was not infected with the virus. The victim didn’t know he had it until he started feeling ill shortly after their sexual encounter and was tested by the Tulsa County Health Department. In the second case, the victim reportedly didn’t know he had it until he was approached by others who told him he may want to get checked. Court papers state Whitney was diagnosed with HIV in 2014 and received counseling regarding his test results, so he was aware he had it. Whitney was charged in July and was arrested on Tuesday. Read more here.
  • A Kentucky mother is facing a murder charge after her toddler son died from injuries he suffered during recent flooding in Edmonson County. >> Read more trending news  According to WBKO and WNKY, Alexandra Richardson, 28, of Bowling Green, was arrested Wednesday on charges of murder, wanton endangerment and operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs after her 20-month-old son, Carson McCollough, died at a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, late Tuesday. She also was charged with possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia, officials said. An arrest warrant obtained by WBKO alleged that Carson and Richardson’s 7-year-old son were in the vehicle Monday when their mother “wantonly drove ... around a ‘road closed’ sign and into a flooded creek” on Oak Hill Road. Although Richardson and the older boy escaped the waters, the toddler was swept away, WBKO reported. Rescue crews found Carson and rushed him to a Bowling Green hospital, authorities said. A helicopter then flew the boy to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, where he died, according to WBKO. In a Wednesday news release, the Edmonson County Sheriff’s Office said Richardson “made admissions to using methamphetamine and marijuana,” and blood tests taken Monday showed both drugs were in her system, WNKY reported. A search of Richardson’s home uncovered what appeared to be “a small amount” of the drugs, according to the news station. Richardson is being held at the Hart County Jail. Deputies also arrested her boyfriend, 56-year-old William Suttle, on charges of possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia, WNKY reported. Read more here or here.
  • A school librarian at Cedar Hills Elementary in Jacksonville is charged with grand theft. Jail records show 61-year-old Pamela Drinkwater is being held on no bond. School District Police arrested Drinkwater on Wednesday, but the specifics of her arrest were not yet available. Drinkwater has been an employee with Duval Schools since 2008, having worked at Enterprise Learning Academy and Long Branch Elementary before being assigned to Cedar Hills in 2014. Cedar Hills Principal Marva McKinney said in a robocall to parents that this type of behavior is not tolerated, and the school is cooperating fully with internal and external investigation.  “Due to internal and external investigations surround this situation, I cannot share any further information, but I can tell you that the staff member will be reassigned from her school duties pending the outcome of the internal investigation by our Office of Professional Standards”, said McKinney. 
  • After another chilly morning, we're in for a nice couple of days. We’ll see lots of sun and not a whole lot of wind with temperatures near 70 degrees.  The average high is 69 degrees. Action News Jax Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh says Saturday will be cooler because of a wind shift that will also bring a chance for showers.  Sunday may bring a few showers and will be partly to mostly cloudy with afternoon temperatures near 70, but cooler at the beaches.  The new work week will start off unseasonably warm with temps approaching 80 degrees. 

The Latest News Videos