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'We want to keep everybody safe': Project will soon stock Louisville bars with tools to test for date-rape drugs

As officers investigate a recent string of sexual assaults stemming from the Highlands bar district, city leaders are trying to add a line of defense for customers.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — More bars along Bardstown Road could soon be offering free tools to customers to test their drinks for date rape drugs.

This comes amid a recent string of sexual assaults stemming from the Highlands bar district, according to Louisville Metro Police (LMPD). In a PSA released in early May, police preached caution, after several women reported they'd been drugged.

Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Lt. Brad Silveria said in his 10 years working in the Metro, he's never seen a surge this bad.

"More than one is too many, and we're there," he said. "Women wake up, and they can tell they've been sexually assaulted. They don't know how they got where they got."

Silveria said officers are working to pinpoint the man or men responsible, but as they investigate, they're working to add a line of defense for customers.

"Our intention is to provide these stickers for everybody, every location up and down this corridor," he said. "We want to keep everybody safe."

In partnership with Louisville's ABC Enforcement Division, Councilwoman Cassie Chambers-Armstrong (D-8) has funded a $1,000 pilot project to make resources readily available. They say shipments of stickers and test strips to detect date-rape drugs are on the way and will be offered free to bars to hand out to customers.

"It's cutting-edge technology," Chambers-Armstrong said. "I know people are concerned. I know people are worried. We are here to work with them and make sure they have the tools."

Silveria said they'll encourage businesses to opt-in, noting their responsibility to make sure customers are safe, but ultimately it will be the decision of each bar. He said the goal is to expand the safety effort from there.

"The bars in St. Matthews, the bars on Dixie Highway, the bars east end, west end, south end," Silveria said.

The city doesn't have a timeline of when the shipments will arrive, but said once they do, they'll be visiting bars along the corridor to get as many stocked as possible.

Silveria would not specify how many women or which bars have been targeted to this point, saying the pending investigation limits what they can release.

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