Governor Pat is seeking $2 million for HERO, and I would applaud an even higher allocation. The program gives disabled vets chances to use their talent and training to rescue victims of child predators. If awareness campaigns are working, you already know this is the month we are supposed to be raising awareness about child abuse. That may be the reason we are reading this article.

Putting awareness aside, the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative Corps was formed by the National Association to Protect Children. Years ago, then Mayor Terry Bellamy invited Grier Weeks, executive director of PROTECT, to make a presentation before Asheville City Council. Consideration of hiring a few new investigators seemed one of the very few appropriate actions I had seen council undertake. But, more importantly, there was the sense there was not a dry eye in the place. As we go about our days, poor, defenseless little kids are in sick situations beyond their control.

It is easy to look the other way because it is a disgusting topic, and unless we know a perp, there’s no way we can intervene directly. The HERO investigators, however, are making headway and slowly but surely getting one kid here and one there to safe places. In the way back when, if memory serves, PROTECT didn’t have the manpower to touch even one percent of available potentially prosecutable evidence.