Neighbors want police to crack down on "hooker hotel" - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Neighbors want police to crack down on "hooker hotel"

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Louisville Metro Police Major Greg Burns Louisville Metro Police Major Greg Burns

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Neighbors call it the "hooker hotel" but prostitution isn't the only thing that has people living near a Bardstown Road business on edge.

One mom said she has seen it all - drugs, a reported home invasion - and she cannot understand why it has been so hard for police to crack down.

The woman who called herself  "Jo" was too frightened to publicly disclose her identity, but more than willing to describe what sits behind her house.

"Hooker hotel, drug hotel, crack hotel," Jo said, listing the businesses various nicknames.

Its real name is the Economy Inn on Bardstown Road in Beuchel. A place where crime comes with the territory.

"Everyday before my kids come out to play I have to search for drug needles," Jo said.

This after she found a purse full of syringes against her back fence in May. It was just a few feet away from her 5-year-old's swing set.

A year ago, her 16-year-old daughter startled a burglar. The police told her the man likely hopped the fence from the hotel.

"There was a butcher knife in our hallway," Jo said, adding that her daughter's alarm went off as he made his way through their house. "We think it startled him because he left his duffel bag and laptop in it."

A WAVE 3 reporter who sat in the Economy Inn's parking lot undercover recorded troubling signs on camera: a man carrying what appeared to be handcuffs to one hotel room; backpack deliveries to others; handshake exchanges in the parking lot. All this as children staying at the hotel come and go.

Police records found 1,580 incident reports at the hotel's address in the two year period from June 2011 to June 2013. That is more than two incidents every day.

"It presents a real challenge," said Louisville Metro Police Major Greg Burns.

A review of those police reports revealed officers routinely refer to the Economy Inn as a "high crime area" with assaults, robberies, drugs and prostitution.

One woman working behind the desk at the hotel told a hidden camera it was not uncommon for people to check in for a few hours at a time, then leave.

"It is what it is," she said, adding she was not aware what hotel guests would be doing in a room for that short a period of time. "Whatever people do for a couple hours."

Jo thinks it is clear what is going on. "That tells me that they are using the hotel to probably prostitute or do drugs," she said.

"We understand that it is a concern," Major Burns said.

Burns said part of the problem is that the Economy Inn is an extended stay hotel. Burns said that attracts lower income clientele which he says can be prone to crime. He said he assigns as many officers as possible to patrol the hotel and has asked hotel management to help as well, by enhancing their video surveillance system, not renting rooms to people who have been arrested on-site, and banning cars from backing into parking spots in an attempt to hide the license plates from police.

Hotel manager Kelly Kado said they are tracking problems and cooperating with police.

"We've probably cleaned up crime by 70 percent," Kado said. He also said the employee who said people check in for a couple hours at a time and then check out had "false information."

Burns said police will continue to work with the hotel as long as the hotel is making an effort. He also said the department does not have the ability to just go in and shut down the Economy Inn.

"That would be great if I had the power to do that," Burns said. "But unfortunately, I don't. I mean a business has a right to run."

Louisville Metro does have a nuisance ordinance that allows the city to close a business where crime is a problem. But the county attorney's office said enforcement of the ordinance giving Inspections, Permits and Licenses authority to do that is primarily complaint-driven.

Jim Mims, director of Inspections, Permits and Licenses, said his department does not have a big file on the Economy Inn and has no plans to take action.

And yet it is a business that is running neighbors like Jo into hiding. "I just don't think prostitutes and drug dealers should have more rights than the people in this neighborhood," she said.

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