Increasingly in our community and across the board, organizations – schools, service agencies, hospitals, law enforcement , and prosecution – are encountering human trafficking. In response, several joint projects have been designed to address immediate needs, but no infrastructure to maintain these collaborative efforts has existed. Until now.
Building on the work of numerous organizations, some specifically designed to address the needs of trafficked individuals and some ready to expand their service array to better support victims, an initial task force meeting was convened in March 2015. The modest intent of the meeting was to assess interest in forming a body to integrate and coordinate local efforts; the actual result was an enthusiastic gathering of 25 organizations who assumed the need for a formal task force, and got right to the business of setting an agenda for change.
Today, the Kent County Human Trafficking Task Force has a formal organizational structure designed to ensure sustainability, improve communication among members, increase awareness among professionals and the larger community, and implement effective initiatives informed by multiple perspectives. The Leadership Committee is elected by Task Force members and is organized into several sub-committees. Each sub-committee is charged with activities aimed at furthering the Task Force’s mission – To build awareness, collaboration, and investigative capacity to address sex and labor trafficking in Kent County.
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|Chair||Meaghan Pear (BDO USA)|
|Co-Chair||Kim Richardson (Assistant Kent County Prosecutor)|
|Information Coordination Chair||Alisha Meneely (Michigan Child Protection Registry)|
|Law Enforcement Chair||Daniel Priebe (Michigan State Police)|
|Medical Community Chair||Andrea Rocafort (Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital)|
|Public Outreach and Education Chair||Ben Kaiser (Arbor Circle)|
|Social Services Chair||Nicole Villanueva (YWCA West Central Michigan)|