FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 10, 2020) - Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced today that his Office of Human Trafficking and Child Abuse Prevention and Prosecution will receive a $100,000 grant from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop a human trafficking awareness and training campaign. The funding was awarded as part of DOJ's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Community Policing Development Microgrants Program, which aims to advance innovative community policing projects across the country.
"We know that human trafficking impacts the lives of countless Kentuckians, but incidences of human trafficking are often undetected or unreported due to lack of awareness, misidentification, or a perceived stigma associated with trafficking," said Attorney General Cameron. "Our law enforcement and community leaders are the first line of defense in recognizing and combatting human trafficking. That's why I'm grateful for this generous grant from DOJ to assist in our efforts to develop and implement a comprehensive human trafficking training and awareness campaign that will assist law enforcement and communities across the Commonwealth in stopping human trafficking and helping victims."
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a senior member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, secured important provisions that were signed into law to help mobilize federal funding to Kentucky through the COPS program.
"As Senate Majority Leader, I'm constantly working to keep Kentucky's priorities at the highest levels of the federal government. I contacted COPS Director Phil Keith to advocate on behalf of the Attorney General's grant application, and I'm pleased the competitive federal funding is going to the Commonwealth to help educate Kentuckians of all ages about human trafficking," said Senator McConnell. "I'm proud to work with strong state and local officials like Attorney General Cameron to mobilize federal resources and support efforts to keep Kentucky families safe."
The grant will aid the Attorney General's Office of Human Trafficking and Child Abuse Prevention and Prosecution in developing a two-pronged human trafficking awareness campaign, which includes training law enforcement and community leaders regarding the identification and handling of human trafficking situations and a multi-platform communications campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking.
"We are so grateful for the DOJ's support in combatting human trafficking in Kentucky," said Heather Wagers, Executive Director of the Office of Human Trafficking and Child Abuse Prevention and Prosecution. "This investment in Kentucky will culminate in a campaign for community educators, law enforcement officers, and faith-based organizational leaders to recognize the signs of human trafficking and effective strategies to promote a reduction of victimization with vulnerable populations."
Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received 2,829 contacts related to Kentucky. Earlier this year, Attorney General Cameron worked with the General Assembly to implement comprehensive human trafficking reform by passing House Bill 2, co-sponsored by House Majority Caucus Chair Suzanne Miles and House Judiciary Chairman Jason Petrie. The legislation increases awareness of human trafficking and makes it easier for law enforcement to arrest and prosecute traffickers by aligning state law with existing federal laws.
"This grant goes hand in hand with the work we did to pass HB 2 this session and speaks volumes about the Attorney General's commitment to fight human trafficking in Kentucky," said Representative Miles. "To effectively address human trafficking, we have to build awareness and help Kentuckians understand that it can happen in any community, that victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality.
The campaign funded by this grant will help us accomplish that."
"By training our law enforcement agencies and community leaders in how to identify and handle human trafficking, we have an opportunity to give them the tools they need to be partners in addressing this problem," said Representative Petrie. "We know it is already a problem, our Commonwealth's interstates and central location make Kentucky a convenient location and centralized hub for human trafficking."
Community Policing Development Microgrants Program funds are used to develop the capacity of local, state, and tribal law enforcement agencies to implement community policing strategies. Applicants for the grant were invited to propose demonstration or pilot projects to be implemented in their agency that offer creative ideas to advance crime fighting, community engagement, problem solving, or organizational changes to support community policing in different areas.
Taylorsville Police Chief Brian Sumner wrote a letter of support for the grant application.
"We regularly see the toll human trafficking leaves in our communities and the psychological impact it has on our youth," said Chief Sumner. "We look forward to partnering with the Office of the Attorney General in their efforts to raise awareness and combat human trafficking through this grant project."