Officials say Kentucky’s HOPE Initiative is already working
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington officials joined Attorney General Daniel Cameron Wednesday morning to talk about ways that they are trying to cut down on human trafficking.
The HOPE Initiative began in October 2022 in four counties, including Fayette County, and officials say it’s already working.
Officials reached out to local landlords to inform them about illicit massage parlors that were being run in their buildings. Illicit massage parlors are quickly becoming the fastest-growing type of human trafficking in the country.
Officials say that since the program started, eight of those parlors have been shut down, three of those were in Fayette County.
“This is not just an enforcement action; this is a people action. You know, we realize that there are people involved,” said Chief Lawrence Weathers, Lexington Police Department. “These things can pop up in anybody’s community, and we need the community’s help to identify them and bring them to our attention so we can bring the resources that we need to put those places out of business.”
Natalie’s Sisters Executive Director Jani Lewis says that is especially true in Lexington, and it’s vital that, if you see the signs, to report it.
“If it looks off. If they have windows that are shuttered. If they have a locked door where people have to be let in individually through the door if the prices don’t match; there are very glaring differences between an illicit massage parlor and a spa or massage parlor,” said Lewis. “We see probably 100 women a week at Natalie’s Sisters drop-in center and through our street ministry and club ministries. So, really it’s in every facet of Lexington, in every area of Lexington, in every neighborhood.”
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