Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Arizona Senator John McCain, apologized after she said during an interview that she had foiled an attempt at human trafficking but was later corrected by local police.
McCain, who serves as the co-chair of the Arizona Governor’s Council on Human Trafficking and the McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council, mentioned the incident on KTAR News’ 92.3 radio program “Mac & Gaydos” on Monday.
According to McCain, she noticed something that seemed off while in the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and she mentioned it to nearby police officers who, she believed, discovered an incident of human trafficking thanks to her tip.
“I came in from a trip I’d been on and I spotted — it looked odd — it was a woman of a different ethnicity than the child, this little toddler she had, and something didn’t click with me. I tell people, trust your gut,” McCain said.
“I went over to the police and told them what I saw and they went over and questioned her and, by God, she was trafficking that kid,” McCain went on.
“She was waiting for the guy who bought the child to get off an airplane,” she added.
McCain’s story was told in the context of encouraging individuals to always check into anything they found to be suspicious.
However, local police told KTAR that the incident wasn’t as dangerous as McCain had made it out to be.
Police said on Wednesday that McCain was incorrect, and there was no attempt at human trafficking at the time that McCain reported on, according to local news.
KTAR reported that Sgt. Armando Carbajal of the local police told them that officers investigated the issue brought to them by McCain and even ran a welfare check on the child.
Police found “no evidence of criminal conduct or child endangerment,” KTAR reported.
That announcement prompted McCain to address the issue on Twitter.
“At Phoenix Sky Harbor, I reported an incident that I thought was trafficking,” McCain tweeted on Wednesday.
“I commend the police officers for their diligence. I apologize if anything else I have said on this matter distracts from ‘if you see something, say something.’”
At Phoenix Sky Harbor, I reported an incident that I thought was trafficking. I commend the police officers for their diligence. I apologize if anything else I have said on this matter distracts from “if you see something, say something”
— Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) February 7, 2019
According to the Arizona Republic, McCain’s “see something, say something” is a mantra that is encouraged by the Phoenix Police Department and Sky Harbor.
On Thursday afternoon, the McCain Institute issued a statement to The Arizona Republic:
“When Cindy reported what she thought was an incident of trafficking at the airport she was only thinking about the possible ramifications of a criminal act, not the ethnicity of the possible trafficker,” the statement said. “Her hyper sensitivity to looking for trafficking in this instance was not correct, but it should in no way distract from the broader importance that we all have a responsibility to be aware of this kind of crime. This incident should in no way discourage anyone from reporting potential trafficking issues to law enforcement.”
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