Attorney General Andy Beshear joined City of Princeton Police Chief Don Weedman to host a human trafficking awareness training at city hall for law enforcement officials in Western Kentucky.
The training provides local law enforcement with information on current human trafficking leads, criminal cases throughout the Commonwealth and human trafficking indicators and trends.
The training, co-hosted by the Office of the Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigations and the City of Princeton Police Department, is being provided ahead of the upcoming solar eclipse, which is expected to bring thousands of visitors to Hopkinsville and throughout the region.
Beshear said it is unfortunate that human traffickers view large-scale sporting and community events as prime opportunities to engage in trafficking, and added that he is impressed with the preventative steps Western Kentucky’s leaders have taken to prepare.
“By working with Chief Weedman, the City of Princeton and many other regional law enforcement offices and organizations, we are more likely to prevent, identify and prosecute human trafficking cases in Western Kentucky,” said Beshear. “Sadly, human trafficking does not just impact one event or one area – it occurs in every county, city and community and that is why I have made combating this horrible crime one of my top priorities.”
In July, Beshear’s office provided multiple human trafficking prevention trainings for health care workers, local leaders and law enforcement throughout Western Kentucky. Trainings were held at Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, the Marshall County Rotary Club, Joe Creason Community Center in Benton, and at the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Paducah.
Over the last year, Beshear has established the Office of the Attorney General 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 task force 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 also allowed a specially trained human trafficking investigator to be hired.
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.
Beshear said that his office will continue to fight to protect trafficking victims who are often the most marginalized in society – victims of abuse and violence, runaways, refugees, immigrants or those who are homeless.
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.