Tracking the heroin problem: KSP crime lab shows increase in Louisville
Officials with the KSP crime lab say meth is the overall top drug being tested at the state labs. In Louisville, there’s a different drug of choice.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- What drugs are creating the most problems in Kentucky?
Kentucky State Police say that meth is the top drug being tested overall at the state crime labs, but in Louisville, there’s a different drug of choice.
“Our drug of most concern has been heroin,” said Sgt. Tom Schardein with Louisville Metro Police.
Heroin has been on the increase dramatically statewide.
Statistics from Kentucky State Police show that heroin cases skyrocketed in Kentucky in 2013, with the number of heroin submissions sent to the state labs nearly doubling from the year before. The total heroin submissions from 2010 to 2015 to the KSP labs are as follows.
- 2010 -- 451 submissions
- 2011 -- 749 submissions
- 2012 -- 1,803 submissions
- 2013 -- 3,570 submissions
- 2014 -- 3,840 submissions
- 2015 -- 3,691 submissions
"We're now running around 4,000 cases a year in heroin,” said KSP Laboratory Director Laura Sudkamp.
The KSP labs analyze about 23,000 drug samples each year.
Statewide, heroin is second on the list.
“It falls behind only methamphetamine,” said Laura Sudkamp.
So where is heroin most common?
“Heroin is primarily in the Lexington, Louisville, and Covington areas,” said Laura Sudkamp.
Sgt. Tom Schardein with LMPD says there are several reasons why heroin became a top drug locally.
He says state lawmakers enforced legislation to tackle the prescription pill issue years ago, but the crackdown left addicts looking for another drug of choice.
“And they went to a cheaper product, which turned out to be heroin, and a more available product, which also turned out to be heroin,” said Sgt. Schardein.
If you think it's not happening in your neighborhood, Sgt. Schardein says think again.
“I would say there's probably not a neighborhood in Jefferson County that's not affected by heroin use or heroin trafficking,” said Sgt. Schardein.
Statistics from the local KSP crime lab in Louisville show oxycodone as the top local drug in 2010, cocaine from 2011-13 and heroin from 2014-15.
LMPD is also keeping track and provided WDRB a chart of known heroin charges in previous years.
- 2011 -- 190 heroin charges
- 2012 -- 768 heroin charges
- 2013 -- 1,280 heroin charges
- 2014 -- 1,501 heroin charges
- 2015 -- 1,517 heroin charges
- 2016 -- 120 heroin charges so far (as of Feb. 11)
Sgt. Schardein says LMPD is targeting the problem, going after top-tier traffickers and working with surrounding agencies.
“We realize we cannot arrest our way out of the problem. If you arrest every addict that you run across, it's just gonna fill the jail and not necessarily in a good way,” said Sgt. Schardein.
He says officers are looking at other ways to address the issue.
“If we can maybe get some people through drug court, or through other programs into treatment, or get them into voluntary treatment, or through the use of Casey's Law, get the families to help seek treatment,” said Sgt. Schardein.
He says this could help addicts and bring down the numbers, both locally and statewide.
“Cause ultimately it's a supply and demand issue. As long as the demand is there, the people who are selling it are going to continue to supply it, so we have to address both sides,” said Sgt. Schardein.
It takes the state crimes labs about 30 days to get items tested and back to police.
The state lab in Louisville can take twice that long because of staff shortages.
Officials say they have been hiring and it should be back to normal by the fall.
Copyright 2016 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.