POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Pound Ridge Police Chief David Ryan has helped secure a $258,641 grant for the Westchester County Anti-Trafficking Task Force – an organization he helped to form along with Pound Ridge Town Board member Ali Boak.
The grant came from a private anonymous local source.
Ryan said the Department of Justice offers a million-dollar grant, but the task force doesn’t qualify under the department's current criteria.
“So, I went to some outside funding sources,” Ryan said. “The money is to be earmarked during negotiations for things like training, legal services, case management and public outreach.”
Ryan said the money will help the task force work cases better and move forward with the protocols it developed last year. However, he said, the best thing the grant does is help the group retain Boak’s services as lead consultant.
“Ali is one of the leading authorities on human trafficking in the world,” the chief said. “We really need her guidance and direction.”
Boak said the creation of the task force was crucial because it helps raise awareness that human trafficking and sex slavery are crimes more prevalent than people realize – even here in Westchester County.
“We’ve only had a state law since 2007. Before that, [human trafficking] was enforced piecemeal through things like kidnapping and forgery laws” she said. “It’s a growing and emerging field and more and more people are becoming aware of it.”
Boak said while securing the grant was crucial for the task force, more money is needed.
“We are so happy that [the grant money] is coming from within the community, but we still need resources,” she said. “We just had a meeting and the police need special equipment and money for overtime and we don’t have it. That used to come from special funding, but a lot of budgets have been cut.”
Nonetheless, in the year the task force has been in existence, Ryan said it already has had an impact.
“We are all networking and meeting together – it’s going fantastic,” he said. “We have had close to 91 victims come through [the task force].