“Crack pipe” sales, prostitution top concerns at Northeast crime meeting

By Leslie Collins
Northeast News
Feb. 23, 2011

Although the Community Action Network (CAN) program was scrapped, it hasn’t stopped area citizens from fighting for Northeast.

Several citizens attended the Feb. 16 community crime meeting, formerly called CAN, at the North-East Public Library and voiced concern over the sale of “crack pipes.”

“It’s just ridiculous,” said Ronald Heldstab, president of the Lykins Neighborhood Association. “And then they wonder why all our kids are on drugs and going crazy.”

Heldstab said “crack pipes” are common at gas stations, including Millennium Super Stop and Intercity Oil Co.

“The crack’s bad enough, but to have easy access (is even worse),” Laura Schook of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association said.

Northeast News contacted Kansas City Prosecutor Lowell Gard and asked if the sale of “crack pipes” are legal. The answer is no.

“The difficulty is not in the charge, but in the proof. Crack pipes can be anything,” Gard said. “You’ve got a quick stop place that sells a single rose in a glass tube. A lot of the people buying those aren’t buying it for the rose.

“You can’t prove the intent of that person buying the rose or the person selling it was to really sell a crack pipe…”

To be considered paraphernalia, the glass tube must be found in close proximity to an illegal drug or contain remnants of the illegal substance, he said.

Gard compared the sale of glass pipes to the sale of cigarette papers.

“It’s legal to sell cigarette papers because there is a legal use, but most people do not roll their own tobacco cigarettes,” he said.

A number of people use cigarette papers to smoke marijuana, he said. However, the papers are only considered paraphernalia if marijuana or another illegal drug is found nearby.

“It’s very difficult to actually enforce it (the sale of crack pipes) against a retailer,” Gard said. “They’re not dumb enough to advertise that they’re a head shop.”

Another concern voiced during the meeting was area prostitution.

“In the last week or so, it started to pick up again,” Heldstab said. “On that one, you have to stay right on top of it. If you don’t, there will be 20 next week.”

One main area he cited is between Indiana and Cleveland behind Apple Market.

Schook added a positive and said there was a recent prostitution sting near Central Bank.

C.W. Herring of the Sheffield neighborhood voiced concern over the mounting pile of roofing material at Go Green Recycling.

“It’s already 10 feet down to the flat pavement there on the corner and it goes up 30, 40 feet from there,” Herring said of the pile at Go Green.

Herring added that the roofing materials are now spilling over into the railroad yard and one of the power lines is beginning to tilt from the weight. Leftover roofing nails are also a problem, he said, and have caused several flat tires.

“His (Go Green owner) theory is great, but it’s sort of out of control,” Schook said. “We don’t think he can keep up with it (pile of roofing material to recycle).”

Other topics discussed at the meeting included vacant houses and truants at Budd Park.

Connie Hill of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association said she will forward on the meeting minutes to the Kansas City Police Department.

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