Monday, July 23, 2018

ODPS Director Challenges Human Trafficking Task Force to Be Involved in Next Administration

WESTERVILLE – Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) Director John Born had some parting words for members of the Governor’s Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force as the Kasich administration draws to an end.

“The momentum cannot stop,” Born told members during a meeting at the Westerville Public Library before Gov. John Kasich delivered his final “State of the State” speech in his adopted hometown.

He told members that if they believe their work is valuable, then it is incumbent on them to be present as the next governor prepares to give his or her first “State of the State” address next year.

Attendees of the meeting remarked on how far the state has come when dealing with human trafficking compared to when the task force began and Ohio had no strict laws against it. Born noted an early meeting with law enforcement where human trafficking was a major topic. In 2010-11, that subject would not have likely been brought up.

Still, Born said that if there was victory in human trafficking, it would be on an individual basis. If law enforcement and advocates can make an impact for victims and deter traffickers, their work is successful, he said.

Karhlton Moore, the director of Ohio Criminal Justice Services, echoed those sentiments. He recalled an early meeting in which one participant remarked that there are “much bigger things than human trafficking for them to focus on.” He said he doubts anyone would make the same remark today.

He said there is still work needed to convince people of its importance and how to keep an eye out for it.

The task force heard from Jennifer Tscholl of the Center for Family Safety and Healing at Nationwide Children’s Hospital who said they are working on trying to come up with an evidence-based strategy for helping at-risk youth and preventing them from falling under the sway of a human trafficker. She said they are trying to come up with a screening mechanism but have not completed one yet.

Sophia Papadimos, the anti-trafficking coordinator at ODPS, also outlined programs the state is currently focusing on using federal grants. She suggested for 2018, the state work on increasing the identification of labor trafficking victims, which she said worldwide make up a higher percentage of victims than sex trafficking victims. She also said there should be an increased focus on employment and long-term recovery services for victims.

Gary Allen, director of the Ohio Investigative Unit, told task force members that agents for the unit have become passionate about identifying human trafficking since undergoing training. He said he believes they will make a difference soon.
Story originally published in The Hannah Report on March 6, 2018.  Copyright 2018 Hannah News Service, Inc.

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