A few months ago Joe LaSorsa reached out to a group of us with the idea starting a nonprofit to address the issues of human trafficking and missing persons. All of us liked the idea and came onboard. Joe, never being one to sit around, moved the idea from concept to reality in lightening speed. For me, as the thought became a reality I began to ask myself why do I want to be involved in something like this I’m what I consider semi-retired, I don’t need the extra work and responsibility. So why?
I started my law enforcement career with the local Sheriff’s Department here in South New Jersey in 1990. Among the many things that have stayed with me over the years since I retired is a Missing Persons poster that was on the bulletin board in our break room. The poster contained two pictures, one was of a panel van and the other was of two children a boy and a girl. The picture had been analyzed and it was determined that the picture had been taken in the back of a van, the same model as provided in the picture of the van but not the van. The children were obviously bound and had strips of tape across their mouths. The boy was probably not more than twelve years old and the girl was maybe fourteen or so. The flier stated that the girl in the picture had been positively identified as a reported missing two years earlier in Arizona, the boy was not identified. The picture had been found in a parking lot in Florida. That picture haunts me to this day the look of terror on their faces and in their eyes. I can’t even begin to imagine what evil had been perpetrated against them.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as of the December 31, 2019 the NCIC had approximately 87,500 active missing person’s reports. Thirty five percent of those reports are for juveniles (persons under the age of eighteen), another forty four percent are people under the age of twenty-one. (https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/cjis-link/fbi-releases-2019-missing-person-statistics)
Recently, Joe asked me if I’d be willing to write the first blog post for Project Guardian and I said sure. How tough can it be? I like to write and have been doing blog posts for years now. As I began researching the issue I realized just how little I know about the subject and issues around human trafficking and missing persons. It’s like an onion, every time you peel off a layer you find another. The depth and breadth of this issue is huge and cuts across all peoples and boundaries.
Many of the people affected by these crimes are our most vulnerable and are helpless to defend themselves. This also goes for the families, police departments are overwhelmed and don’t have the staff to address these issues as much as needed and many families can’t afford professional assistance with their cases. That is where we at Project Guardian hope to be able to make a difference.
We here at Project Guardian hope that you’ll join us and support us in this endeavor to assist people and families in need hoping for the safe return of their family members. Thank you in advance for our support.