TAMPA, Fla. — In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, warnings turned to citations as officers visited more than 30 adult entertainment businesses to gauge compliance with an ordinance requiring signs that will aid potential victims of human trafficking.
“History has shown us that whenever there’s a large event that comes to any major city, such as the Super Bowl, there’s an uptick in human trafficking," Tampa Police Detective Scott Savitt told I-Team Investigator Kylie McGivern.
The Hillsborough County ordinance requires strip clubs, adult bookstores and theaters, cabarets, and any other adult entertainment business to post signs with information on how to contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center if they or someone they know is a victim of human trafficking.
"They’re in every single bathroom stall, they’re in every single changing room. They’re prominently displayed in the lobby. We want to make sure that everybody sees them," Savitt said of the signage.
The signs are written in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese.
“We want the victims to know that they are victims. We’ll treat them like victims. We’re not going to treat them like criminals. There’s lots of different programs where we want to let them know that we’re trying to reach out to them," Savitt said.
Out of the roughly three dozen businesses inspected, Hillsborough County cited two businesses not in compliance:
- Teasers at 9700 N Nebraska Ave.
- The Pink Pussycat at 10924 N Nebraska Ave.
The fine is $265.
Teasers Manager Brian Gibson told the I-Team they now have the signs up in all of the required places.
"We want to do the right things. There's going to be a lot of people coming through and we want to make sure they're not forced to do anything," Gibson said of the dancers, on the eve of Super Bowl weekend.
Gibson said he supports the ordinance requiring signs listing resources for victims of human trafficking.
"They just need to feel safe. If someone is brought from out-of-state, it gives them an opportunity to get help," Gibson said. "If we can help one person get out then we've done our job."
The I-Team has contacted The Pink Pussycat for comment and has not yet heard back.
If you believe you are a victim of human trafficking or suspect an adult is a victim of human trafficking, please visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline or call 1-888-373-7888. If you suspect a child is a victim, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.