Police unable to stop drug use, drinking at city skate park

Louisville's Extreme Park
Louisville's Extreme Park
Major Jeff Wardrip
Major Jeff Wardrip

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - School's out and kids have a lot more time on their hands. And that means some teens are hanging out at a Louisville Metro Park with a growing reputation for drug use, underage drinking and violence.

Louisville Metro calls its downtown Extreme Park one of the nation's best with 40,000 feet of skating surface near the city's waterfront. It's also a place where laws are often broken and city rules ignored.

At 10:45 on a Tuesday night the party was already rolling at the Louisville Extreme Park. A man who identified himself as "New York" didn't have a board or a bike, just a handful of marijuana and no problem smoking it as small children play on the vert ramp just a few feet away.

"I said smell the bud," the man could be heard telling an undercover reporter.

The reporter asked the man if he was worried about Louisville Metro Police catching him with the marijuana.
"Man I'm not worried about the cops," he said, adding, "(people) smoke weed down here all day every day."

The undercover reporter watched people at the Extreme Park openly smoking pot on multiple occasions, including a group that passed the joint to a teenager who appeared to be about 14.

Others ignored the ban on alcohol, drinking beer just a few feet from the city sign that prohibits it.

"I mean people drink, smoke here," one man told the undercover reporter. "Cops really don't care."

Louisville Metro Police Major Jeff Wardrip said officers do care about illegal activity at the Extreme Park. But he said skaters see police coming because the extreme park sits above the road so they can stop illegal activity before officers catch them.

"It's kind of tucked in," Wardrip said.

A data analysis showed police runs at the extreme park dropped more than 50 percent from the first six months of 2012 to the same time period in 2013. This, as skate boarders told the undercover reporter, drug use and violence are on the rise.

"People will get to arguing or some people from the hood will come up here and try to steal bikes," a skater who called himself Otto said. "By the time cops get here it's too late. They're already gone."

Wardrip said claims of rampant fights are overblown. He also said the decrease in arrests isn't because police cut patrols, it's because people aren't reporting crimes at the Extreme Park as much as they used too.

Here's what an adult named "Jim" who was hanging out at the skate park told the undercover reporter in response to questions about a group of teens smoking marijuana nearby.

"That's not on my purview," Jim said. "It ain't my job. Cops can come down here and take care of that whenever they want to."

Wardrip said that attitude is part of the problem.

"They're condoning that activity by not doing nothing," Wardrip said.

Still, Major Wardrip called the information contained in this report "an eye opener" and pledged to take action.

"We will increase the patrols down there and maybe step up some undercover activity down there to stop this," Wardrip said.

Hoping to snuff out a disregard for the law that has gone to extremes.

Wardrip said parents need to monitor their kids at the Extreme Park especially if they're minors. And he said everyone at the Extreme Park has a responsibility to report criminal activity if they see it.

When the Extreme Park opened the city of Louisville made a decision not to supervise it with Metro Parks staff because that would allow Metro Government to be held liable if someone got hurt.

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