Alumni in Focus

Community Engagement Efforts Tackle Human Trafficking in the Eastern Caribbean

Veronica Shepherd

Veronica Shepherd

Station Sergeant (Ag) and Head of the Sex Crimes and Human Trafficking Unit, Royal Barbados Police Force

Station Sergeant Veronica Shepherd serves as the Head of the Sex Crimes and Human Trafficking Unit of the Royal Barbados Police Force. Part of her strategy to combatting human trafficking and child exploitation involves focusing on community outreach and engagement. She noted the importance of involving both adults and children in the sensitization process by conducting awareness lectures in schools, summer camps, community groups, church groups, and front-line officers within the Force.

As part of this community engagement strategy, Shepherd was part of a U.S. Embassy Bridgetown-led team that developed a comic book focusing on the warning signs and serious consequences of human trafficking. The comic book, “CrossRoads Issue 3” explores stories of Human Trafficking in the Caribbean in order to show adolescents how they can be easily lured into the world of Human Trafficking. Shepherd worked with author Nigel Lynch, illustrator Tristan Roach, and U.S. Embassy Bridgetown Information Resource Coordinator Amanda Martinez, to develop the message of the comic book and to ensure the themes could be comprehended by the intended audience—children.

The comic book was presented to the Director of Barbados’ Child Care Board on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, July 30th. The event was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Barbados, Linda Taglialatela, Station Sergeant Shepherd, and comic book author Nigel Lynch.

On the release of the comic book, Station Sergeant Shepherd noted, “I am proud of this development as I see my training as not only to prosecute traffickers but to sensitize children and adults about this dreaded phenomenon.” She continued, “This is an area we have been tackling for some time and it’s a very sensitive area. A lot of persons find it difficult to relate to law enforcement because you do hear from time-to-time that the law is not trusted, but we want persons to know that within our unit we are there to help.”

Station Sergeant Shepherd attended Session 56, the Executive Policy and Development Symposium on Transnational Organized Crime - Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation, in February and March 2018. She noted that she is guided by the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership first introduced during the ILEA Roswell session: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. By exhibiting these core leadership values, “Perseverance seldom fails,” Shepherd said.

You can view and download the "CrossRoads Issue 3" comic book on the U.S. Embassy Barbados website.