Health care workers, law enforcement officials, first responders and civic leaders in Western Kentucky have requested Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office train them in human trafficking awareness.
“Human trafficking represents the worst form of abuse, often to children, and it is increasing all over Kentucky,” Beshear said. “It occurs in every county, city and community in this state. We have an opportunity and obligation to prevent, identify and prosecute human trafficking cases, and by working with these groups in Western Kentucky, we can better work toward that goal.”
The training begins July 24 at 9 a.m. at Lourdes Hospital in Paducah for law enforcement and first responders. Nikki Coursey with Lourdes is a member of Beshear’s statewide Human Trafficking Taskforce.
At noon on July 24, a training will be held in Benton at the Majestic Steak House during the Marshall County Rotary Club’s monthly meeting. At 2 p.m., a training for law enforcement and first responders will be held at the Joe Creason Community Center in Benton.
Lourdes Hospital will hold three trainings July 25 for its clinical staff: 7:15 a.m., noon and 2:30 p.m. At 9 a.m. Beshear’s office will speak to law enforcement officials at the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police Conference at the Paducah Convention Center.
Beshear’s office will hold upcoming trainings across the state including ones for Keeneland staff July 17 and 18; Fayette County Public School staff July 28; Jefferson County Public School psychologists Aug. 1; and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board Conference Aug. 8 in Lexington.
Over the last year, Beshear has established the Kentucky Attorney General’s office as the leading agency fighting human trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery in which adults and children are forced into sex or labor services.
Beshear’s office is currently working 14 human trafficking cases and has assisted local law enforcement with resources in an effort to resolve 96 other human trafficking complaints. His office has trained over 1,500 individuals statewide and forged partnerships with the trucking and hospitality industries, and the Baptist Convention.
The AG’s office, along with Catholic Charities of Louisville, received a federal grant in 2016, the first Department of Justice grant ever awarded to a Kentucky agency for human trafficking. The federal grant provides support to the statewide human trafficking taskforce in its efforts to develop a process for collecting and interpreting data on human trafficking and model protocols for victim-centered response, investigation and prosecution of these cases.
The funding allowed a specially trained human trafficking investigator to be hired.
Human trafficking victims are often the most marginalized in society – victims of abuse and violence, runaways, refugees, immigrants or those who are homeless, Beshear said.
In 2016, Beshear’s office arrested more online child predators than any year in the history of the office. The number of arrests, indictments and convictions totaled nearly 80. His cyber crime investigators also assist with the forensic review of technology on local human trafficking cases.
To learn more about human trafficking and efforts to fight it, contact the Attorney General’s Office of Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Prevention and Prosecution at 502-696-5300 or visit Catholic Charities of Louisville Rescue and Restore program website at http://www.rescueandrestoreky.org. The national human trafficking hotline number is 888-373-7888.