Henrico Police Chief Humberto I. Cardounel, Jr. issued a statement on Wednesday to address a series of social media posts making the rounds claiming the Short Pump area has been a target for human traffickers.
In it, the Chief says that while the issue does exist, there’s no reason to believe the area is a hotbed for this type of criminal activity.
It reads, in full:
I, along with members of the Henrico County Police Division, are aware of recent social media posts being circulated regarding the issue of human trafficking, directly referencing the Short Pump area of the County.
Human trafficking does exist, here in Henrico County and across the nation – from the largest cities to the smallest towns. Henrico Police has a team of detectives dedicated to investigating vice-related offenses, including human trafficking. I take these crimes very seriously and have a devoted team of detectives to focus on identifying and rescuing human-trafficking victims, as well as identifying those ultimately responsible for this horrible crime so they can be held accountable.
Recently there have been multiple social media posts being circulated to imply the Short Pump area in western Henrico County is being targeted by human traffickers. We have no evidence of this to be true. We have received one report of a suspicious male asking for help. Furthermore, we do not have any credible information to suggest there have been attempted stranger abductions in Short Pump or elsewhere in Henrico County.
I believe there is a heightened awareness nationally on the issue of human trafficking, rightfully so. The idea that our residents could be at risk of being abducted naturally sparks fear, especially when the information being spread indicates the threat is in our community. However, the information being circulated across social media suggesting people are being targeted for abduction in Henrico County is unsubstantiated.
If anyone believes they have been targeted or otherwise victimized, please contact Henrico Police immediately (804-501-5000 or 911 in an emergency). Social media is not the most efficient method of reporting crime. The quickest response to reporting crime or suspicious behavior is by calling Henrico Police, as our social media is not monitored 24/7. We want to identify people involved and resolve the situation quickly.
I want to personally assure the public that if we had any reason to believe people were being targeted, for human trafficking or any other crime, WE WOULD INFORM THE COMMUNITY.
I, along with members of the Division, appreciate residents being attentive and reporting suspicious activity to police. However, I request everyone be responsible in what they report and post online, especially as it pertains to crime and safety concerns. If you have concerns, contact Henrico Police.