LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) - A new partner in the fight against human trafficking in Kentucky - the employees of the Transit Authority of the River City – have joined forces with Attorney General Andy Beshear.
The effort includes human trafficking awareness training and reporting protocols that focus on the specific needs of nearly 400 TARC managers, dispatchers and bus drivers, Beshear said Thursday at a press conference.
“This training will help ensure they are in a better position to spot potential human trafficking situations and safely assist victims,” Beshear said. “Our partnership with TARC presents a momentous opportunity to confront human trafficking throughout Greater Louisville.”
TARC will be a strong partner to help fight one of the nation’s fasting growing crimes, Beshear said, because it has more than 15 million customers on 41 routes in five counties in Kentucky and southern Indiana.
Barry Barker, executive director of TARC, said he is glad to join with Beshear on this issue.
“As an agency that interacts with the public every day, the training provided by the Attorney General’s office positions us to be of great service in recognizing and reporting signs of trafficking in our region.”
The training, which begins Oct. 29, includes guidance on the signs of human trafficking, questions to ask suspected victims and reporting protocols. Awareness signage, including window signs for over 200 buses, a wallet card for each driver and brochures will be distributed.
Beshear also recognized Maryhurst, a nonprofit agency that helps survivors of abuse and young women who are vulnerable to human trafficking, for hosting human trafficking training for their staff and leadership.
“There are clear warning signs that anyone can spot with the right training,” said Judy Lambeth, president and chief executive officer of Maryhurst. “The girls who come to us have terribly upsetting stories full of pain and trauma, most often inflicted in secret. We’re supportive of the TARC program because it will empower our system to better expose – and ultimately remedy – situations where trafficking is common.”
Other agencies, including the Kentucky Baptist Convention, all Kentucky Transportation Cabinet highway incident safety professionals, hotel and hospitality industry employees, Truckers Against Trafficking, the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics, have joined Beshear’s fight against trafficking, allowing the office to train more than 5,000 individuals statewide.
Paul Chitwood, executive director of the 750,000-member KBC, has said the organization wants to be part of the solution that wipes out the evils of human trafficking. “We want to do all we can to address this issue that continues to grow worse,” he said.
One of the most practical ways KBC has gotten involved is to pressure hotels to train their employees to recognize human trafficking. The organization does that by refusing to do business with hotels that don’t provide the training.
Only hotels that provide the training are eligible to house Kentucky Baptist leaders who gather for training seminars as well as massive annual meetings that draw people from across the state.
Last month, Beshear joined Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, to announce legislation for the 2019 General Assembly that would grant the Office of the Attorney General the ability to investigate crimes, like human trafficking, that can occur across county lines and multiple jurisdictions.
If a human trafficking victim is in immediate danger dial 911 and report suspected human trafficking of a child to 877-KYSAFE1. Victims of human trafficking may call or text the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.