LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The intersection of Dixie Highway and Hill Street was the site of WAVE 3 News' latest undercover Troubleshooter investigation.
We watched and recorded what’s going on in the crime hot spot, and got reaction from some of the people we videotaped, as well as from police.
Sitting on a porch, counting out small items in her hand, loading them in a glass pipe and firing it up.
A minute later, the same woman gets up with the white stuff in the plastic bag, moves to a nearby porch, sets out a syringe and starts preparing the next batch. She drops the syringe, picks it off the ground and continues the process right out in the open.
Dixie and Hill is an intersection like none other, according to WAVE 3 News’ analysis of LMPD’s crime tracker, with 26 arrests there over the past six months, almost all for drugs.
Our video captured plenty of people standing out along the road for hours, every day, advertising their goods, and disappearing between two houses when a customer arrives. Then, the customer emerges a minute later, counting items in the palm of his hand. Business is so good that he comes back again an hour later, checking yet another apparent purchase in his hand.
Similar activity at another house nearby goes on all day with wrapped plastic bags containing something white. It continues well into the night. Dozens of people go in and come back out after spending a couple of minutes inside.
The drive-through is busy, too. Cars pull up for a couple minutes, and the sellers come to the passenger-side window. Sometimes police pull up and move them along.
The area is a place where police park or patrol constantly. When officers leave, these people open the back hatches of their vehicles, trying to sell what appear to be handguns, flashing in the streetlights.
It’s also a place where prostitution flourishes. Women know where to stand so cops don’t see them, but customers can.
It’s a place where hand-to-hand transactions are non-stop. Flashing lights are continuous, too.
On one November night, a car was pulled over in the Rally’s parking lot. Two more patrol cars arrived for backup. The passengers inside were searched, their hands on the car. Then police spent several minutes searching the car. After the officers pulled away, WAVE 3 News asked the driver what happened.
“They coming from the opposite side, but they watched us ride past, then turned around and went behind us, used that excuse to pull us over that my plate wasn’t illuminated,” Terrell Moragne said.
According to the citation, he was charged with having a non-illuminated license plate, a suspended driver’s license, and no insurance. Moragne said he doesn’t understand why he was searched for that.
“They looking for stuff that ain’t even in there,” he said. “They trying to find something, reaching, trying to find anything they can ... They was just like, ‘We about to search the car. They didn’t really ask, they just did it type thing you know what I mean?’”
WAVE 3 News asked LMPD spokesman Sgt. Lamont Washington why officers would need to search a car that was pulled over because of an unilluminated license plate and no driver’s license?
“I can’t speak to that stop specifically because I wasn’t there and I haven’t looked at the stop, so just in fairness to the officer and the person stopped, I can’t go into that,” he said.
Washington did address the overall problem at Dixie and Hill. He said there is no easy answer, and you can’t police your way out of situations like this.
“It’s an intricate dance because you don’t want to police that area so heavy that people don’t feel comfortable going to that area,” he said. “It’s a hassle, right? But you also don’t want people to feel comfortable turning tricks in a parking lot of a gas station, and doing hand-to-hand transactions.”
A man who lives at the home where WAVE 3 News videotaped the most activity said he’s plenty aware of the drug use on his block.
“Right in front of my house,” he said. “I don’t know anything about them. Most of the time I’m asleep.”
The man added that he tries to tell them to go somewhere else.
“All the time,” he said. “Don’t do no good. (They) come right back.”