Taking down crack kits: Some assembly required

Taking down crack kits: Some assembly required
A WAVE 3 News investigation into "crack kits" has prompted calls for change. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - When an outraged West Louisville resident told me convenience stores are selling crack-cocaine-smoking kits, I had to see for myself.

"Hey can I get a kit?" I asked the clerk at Dixie Food Market.
"A kit?" he asked.
"Yeah," I said.

Just walk up and ask for a kit, and we found several stores bagging up a glass crack pipe, chore boy scrubber that serves as a filter, and sometimes a lighter is included, too.

A co-worker and I went around undercover with a hidden camera and purchased nine kits, each costing between $4 and $7.

When we went back to the stores that sold us the kits with a camera they could see, workers denied selling them or denied knowing what they're used for.

"We purchased one of these from you," I told the clerk at Dixie Food Market, after he denied selling kits.
"From me?" he asked.
"Yeah from you," I said.
"When?" he asked.
"Last week," I said. "We got you on hidden camera. You were the guy who sold this to me actually. I was the one who came in undercover."

Then, at Dino's at 28th and Broadway ...

"Do you sell these?" I asked.
"Yeah we sell them," he said.
"But you don't know why?" I asked.
"I have no clue," he said.

"I believe it was long overdue," West Louisville resident Bruce Sherrod said. "They need to be exposed. It's been going on since the mid-80's, if not earlier. At one time they were selling the kits already prepackaged in bags."

Sherrod is trying to enhance West Louisville. He is soliciting gr ants to build a sports complex and playground next to the Parkway Place housing complex.

While he told me kit sales have been going on for decades, the former LMPD narcotics detective who is now representing the council district where we bought most of the kits was surprised.

"I had not heard of the kits being around anywhere until your news story, so I was pretty shocked," Metro Council President David James said.

James said he contacted the police chief and the county attorney's office, which he said confirmed these "kits" are prosecutable as drug paraphernalia.

"I believe if they have an alcohol license we should be taking it," James said. "We should be putting them out of business because that's what they are doing. They are being an aid to the drug dealers we have that are causing all the troubles we're having in our city. And I don't think they should be able to legally profit from that."

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WAVE 3 News safety and security expert D'Shawn Johnson said there is much more at stake here than helping users consume an illegal drug.

"It all comes together, drugs with the murder rate, it ties together," Johnson said. "What you have here is someone taking advantage of what's going on in an under-economic developed community and profiting from it."

"I think the drug crime and the violence associated with it go hand in hand," James said.

An Alcohol Beverage Control officer told me sales of these kits are something they suspected, but never knew. He says he's been assigned the case, he's working it, and he expects to have something for us soon.

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