Kentucky’s 50th Attorney General spoke to Corbin’s Kiwanis Club last Friday about his office’s four-point mission to make the state safer for its citizens.
Andy Beshear spoke to members of the club during their regular weekly meeting at David’s Steakhouse last week.
Beshear said his first nine months in office has been eventful and productive.
During his half-hour long speech, Beshear said significant progress has been made toward preventing and prosecuting child abuse, protecting the elderly from abuse and scams, seeking justice for rape and sexual assault victims and finding solutions to the drug abuse epidemic.
Currently, Beshear said his office is on pace to triple the number of child sexual predators removed from the streets through online sting operations.
“In the past, we would remove, as an office, about 15 of these folks a year,” Beshear said “As we sit here, we already have removed 32 this year. We have some major operations coming up in the next few weeks and I have no doubt we will triple that figure.”
Beshear said of those caught this year, one was a southern Indiana minister, another was a Somerset firefighter, and yet another was a researcher at a state university.
“You can never predict where these folks will come from.”
Beshear also said he’s been working hard to crack down on human trafficking, which he said is the “fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.”
He lauded the passage of Senate Bill 60 this past session of the General Assembly that fixed a loophole regarding testimony of victims in child abuse cases.
In upcoming sessions, he said he plans to advocate for a law that will put more stringent requirements on who can be employed at a summer camp for children.
“Right now a summer camp can hire anyone regardless of what’s in their background,” Beshear said. “I think if most parents knew that, they’d be outraged. We need to be sure we can fix that as quick as we can.”
He also is backing legislation that closes loopholes regarding sex offenders on playgrounds and human trafficking surrounding the trucking industry.
After the speech to Kiwanis, Beshear was the keynote speaker at a training seminar in Corbin for educators, social workers, police, prosecutors, etc. about spotting signs of child abuse.
In regards to senior citizens, Beshear said the Attorney General’s office has been vigilant in trying to minimize the impact of ever growing and more intense online and phone scams. He noted that the office now has a scam notification text and email system that is free for anyone that sends out alerts.
He also said the office now has a division of senior protection, and has expanded the hours of the elder abuse hotline from 9-5 Monday through Friday to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Beshear called the current incarnation of the drug epidemic, heoroin abuse in particular, “the greatest threat to job growth and economic development” in Kentucky. He said one community he visited recently expressed concern that WalMart would not locate there because they could not find enough workers who could pass a drug test.
Through Beshear’s office, $8 million from settlement funds with the maker of oxycontin has been used for drug recovery centers, like the Independence House in Corbin. He said more is needed than the $18 million allocated by the General Assembly to fight the problem.
“We have far, far too little money going into recovery,” Beshear said.
Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney introduced Beshear to club members and said he was a personal friend.
For his part, Beshear said McBurney “has me on speed dial.”
“I answer my own phone, so the city of Corbin certainly has a hotline to the Attorney General’s office when needed. We are here for you.”