Beshear recruits hotels for fight against human trafficking

Published 3:32 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2017

LOUISVILLE — Kentucky’s attorney general is recruiting hotel workers to join the fight against human trafficking.

The campaign announced Tuesday by Attorney General Andy Beshear urges Kentucky hotel owners to sign a pledge to have their staff complete online human trafficking training. The training warns them to look for signs of sex trafficking and instructs hotel staff on how to safely report the crime.

Enlisting front desk, housekeeping and other hotel workers is part of a larger effort to increase public vigilance against a crime that Beshear called “modern-day slavery.” One of the main impediments is that people often don’t recognize the signs of trafficking, he said.

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“All it takes is a little bit of knowledge and a little bit of courage,” Beshear told reporters.

Beshear said his office is currently working 14 human trafficking cases and has assisted local law enforcement in an effort to resolve 96 other human trafficking complaints.

“Human trafficking victims are often the most marginalized in our society,” the attorney general said. “They are the lost, the lonely and the left behind. They are the exact people that my faith tells me that we have a duty to serve.”

Sex trafficking typically draws more attention during springtime celebrations leading up to the Kentucky Derby, when huge throngs of out-of-towners descend on Louisville. But vigilance is needed year round across the state, Beshear and activists said Tuesday.

Beshear’s office said it has trained more than 1,500 people statewide and forged partnerships with trucking industries as part of the attempted crackdown on trafficking.

This summer Beshear’s office provided human trafficking prevention training sessions for health care workers, local leaders and law enforcement.

Now, with the campaign to spread the training to thousands of hotel workers, the goal is to make sure there’s “no place for these traffickers to hide,” Beshear said.

The hotel industry is on the front line of the fight, said Amy Nace-DeGonda, a Catholic Charities case manager in Louisville who works with human trafficking victims.

She cited National Human Trafficking Hotline reports indicating there were 1,434 cases of human trafficking in hotels and motels nationwide from 2007 to early 2015.

“By recognizing the indicators of both labor and sex trafficking, hotel employees can make a report to the appropriate agency,” she said. “Making reports increases the chances that a survivor can reach needed services.”

Hotels completing the pledge to train workers will be recognized on the AG’s office website.