A New Institute with a Lifesaving Purpose
Saint Leo University has worked consistently with professionals in the field of criminal justice and public safety administration to provide a comprehensive education to future public servants and to offer continuing personal and professional development opportunities to active career law enforcement and public safety personnel.
In 2021 Saint Leo joined with another respected organization in central Florida to focus resources regionally on the crime of human trafficking, which is considered modern slavery. Together with the Florida Forensic Institute for Research, Security and Tactics (F1RST), a venture of the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, Saint Leo is honored to host the Mel Greene Institute to Combat Human Trafficking. These cooperating, founding partners focus institute activities and services within Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus counties in central Florida. The institute bears the name of the late Hernando County humanitarian and philanthropist Mel Greene (1927-2020), whose estate, along with the assistance of surviving friends and associates, helped fund the founding of this enterprise.
The mission of the Mel Greene Institute to Combat Human Trafficking is to provide educational opportunities, research, and awareness of the issues involved in human trafficking, and to develop innovative and comprehensive strategies to combat the problem. The institute structure blends academic focus and practitioner expertise into toolkit programs that span various educational levels and platforms, and that inspire further collaborative partnerships dedicated to raising awareness and implementing action-based solutions to end modern slavery. Infusing the institute’s work into existing educational programs at Saint Leo University supports scalability of anti-trafficking efforts and provides transformational educational opportunities. Saint Leo University, the Florida Forensic Institute for Research, Security and Tactics (F1RST), along with our partners, are committed to elevating the Mel Greene Institute to Combat Human Trafficking into a premier provider of human trafficking education.
Facts About Human Trafficking
Human trafficking involves using people—who are ensnared through fraud, force or coercive acts—often for commercial sex rings, involuntary servitude, debt bondage, for wage-theft enterprises, and other manifestations of enslavement. This list of abuses can take other forms, as well, and there are tens of millions of victims worldwide.
Trafficking occurs globally, transnationally, within countries, and within states and regions. That said, a person who becomes a victim of human trafficking does not necessarily have to be physically moved or transported for trafficking to take place.
Within the United States, as in other nations, the incidence of human trafficking crimes and operations are still difficult to measure. However, Florida ranks consistently with other high-population states for incidence of human-trafficking cases—Florida ranked in 2019, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
Even if a victim initially consented to provide labor, services, or commercial sex acts, trafficking may still occur from a legal standpoint as the trafficker’s coercive intents set the events in motion.
There is no consent possible for those younger than age 18.
Sometimes children are sold into bondage to pay family debts or to provide income, which is called familial trafficking.
Human trafficking has continued in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.
January is observed in the United States as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and January 11 is the specific day of the month used for many awareness campaigns.
About Our Namesake
Melvin T. “Mel” Greene accomplished much in his 92 years. He was a U.S. Army veteran who served in a parachute regiment of an airborne division in his youth, and later became active in organizing and serving in veteran groups including a post for Jewish veterans and veterans of airborne operations. He was a devoted husband and family man, and active synagogue member. An avid photographer, he grew a successful business in the field of portrait photography in South Florida, recording the high points of the lives of people for 30 years. He found special meaning as a member of Rotary Clubs in his home communities and remained an active Rotarian for more than 48 years. Common to all these facets of his life was a love of people, and a passion for those who are hurting in one way or another. Following Mr. Greene’s passing in 2020, friends and associates looked for ways to honor and continue his legacy as a humanitarian.
Representative Activities and Projects
- Tee up Against Trafficking 2nd Annual Charity Golf Tournament
- Teen Dating Violence Awareness Speaker Jan Edwards
- A judge and a human trafficking survivor spoke to a Saint Leo University class during November 2021 as a result of institute involvement (see recommended viewing below).
- Webinar offered November 30, 2021 on community impacts of trafficking (see recommended viewing below).
NOTE: Future events will be held at the university and other venues.
- Alan Wilkett, retired law enforcement official
- Judge Robert A. Bauman, Florida Thirteenth Judicial Circuit
- Kim Figueroa, human trafficking survivor
More information to come
Administration and Foundation Representatives
Mel Greene Foundation Representatives
Reach the institute here for inquiries about programs, resources, and collaborations:
- Phone: (352) 588-8974 | Fax: (352) 588-8660
- Mailing address: Saint Leo University, University Campus - MC 2607, PO Box 6665, St. Leo, FL 33574-6665