Police on Short Pump human trafficking: ‘No evidence of this to be true’
HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Henrico Police Chief Hum Cardounel, Jr. said social media posts that indicated the Short Pump area of Henrico County was a hotbed for human trafficking were not substantiated. The chief’s statement came one day after a CBS 6 report on the posts that spread mainly on Facebook.
“Human trafficking does exist, here in Henrico County and across the nation – from the largest cities to the smallest towns,” his statement began. “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.”
The viral post in question detailed an incident outside the Whole Foods on West Broad Street where a woman said she was approached by an angry man.
“The manager told us that they’ve been having some trouble with this sort of thing. And he also noted that Short Pump has a large human trafficking problem,” the viral post read. “I’m convinced something along those lines was what nearly happened tonight. This man didn’t want money from us.”
Chief Cardounel said there is rightfully a nationwide focus on human trafficking.
“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,” the chief said. “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.”
He asked anyone who believed they were targeted or victimized to call Henrico Police immediately (804-501-5000 or 911 in an emergency).
“Social media is not the most efficient method of reporting crime,” he said. “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, 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.”