For the past three years living in Fort Worth, I have tried to explore the city all I can. I like to drive around town during the day sometimes and see different parts and neighborhoods of Fort Worth. Never in this time did I imagine all the things that go on every day and night in some parts of this place. My experience on April 18, 2019 on a ride-along with Jimmy, who was formerly an undercover police officer, changed my mind completely about the city that I call home.
Jimmy clearly wasn’t what we were expecting from an undercover police officer, as the moment he showed up to pick us up, one of my classmates asked him to show his law enforcement identification. Jimmy was a great person to learn from because he has experienced so much of what we learned about in class. He told us about his undercover work ranging from drugs to trafficking. “I’ve done pretty much everything illegal except kill someone,” was one of the first things he told us.
Our first stop was at a car wash on Berry Street, where many people seemed to be hanging out, and Jimmy pointed out that many of these people in particular positions were functioning as parts of a drug selling system. Many others were just hanging out with their friends at the car wash because that was just the thing to do.
We drove along, Jimmy pointing out various places and people to us along the way. He pointed out places that were more dangerous than others, and groups of people he knew to be more violent than others. At one point Jimmy signaled to a woman walking alongside the road. We stopped and chatted with her for a while. She asked us what we were trying to buy, listing street names of several different drugs. When Jimmy told her that he just wanted to find some weed, she raised her eyebrows. “Is that really all you’re looking for?” she asked. The woman directed us where to go to find a drug house nearby, and as we drove off, Jimmy told us that she was insinuating that she suspected that he was either a cop or a John.
This experience made so much of what we learned in class real for me. I never would have imagined that some of these things go on so close to places I have been before. While we may not have seen the actual buying, selling, or soliciting of sex on this short drive, I am able to better understand some of the push factors that leave people vulnerable to being pulled into trafficking. I’ll be a teacher in the fall, and many of my students will come from neighborhoods such as the ones we drove through. Understanding the push factors that people are experiencing is essential to preventing human trafficking from an educational standpoint.