LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — On November 29, 2021, Lexington Police Officers were called to the Player's Club on Winchester Road for reports of a shooting. The day before, they were called to the same location to break up a fight.
The business would later continue to be connected to several violent incidents since new managers took over in October. In the five months since, officers responded to calls for service 21 more times, three assault reports, three weapons violations, a host of motor vehicle complaints, and case investigation follow-ups.
For years community members have sounded alarms and voiced their concern over the violence in their neighborhoods surrounding the location that even before October has been a strip club. They even met with district council members about a solution and were unable to find one.
"There was one shooting that was exactly out my front door," Fred Roser said after the meeting.
Roser is the owner of Lexington Mechanical Service, who says he doesn't go to his office late at night.
LEX 18 looked at other strip clubs in the area:
- Cheetah Lexington, Platinum Plus, and Platinum Dolls are all associated with the location of 1101 E. New Circle Road.
- Cowboys Showgirls, associated with the location of 1515 Russell Cave Road.
- Divas is associated with the location of 1318 Russell Cave Road.
- Player's Club, Fillies Gentlemen's Club, and The Office are all associated with the location of 987 Winchester Road.
- Spearmint Rhino is associated with the location of 5539 Athens Boonesboro Road.
- Déjà Vu Showgirls associated with 485 W New Circle Road does not have an Alcohol Beverage Control license.
Public records data revealed several incidents of violence, fights, shootings, and even murder. The latest was on April 1 when a man was shot in the parking lot of Cheetah Lexington.
- Since 2019, Lexington police have responded to three assaults, and one disorder with a weapon at the Cheetah.
- At Divas, Lexington police responded to nine assaults, one assault with a deadly weapon, and one weapons violation.
- At Cowboys, police responded to two assaults, one assault with a deadly weapon, two disorder with weapons, and one weapons violation.
It's important to note that these are just instances where police were called since 2019. Police could have been called by business staff. Police reports are not final judgments. Some of the incidents may have been dismissed in court or beforehand through warnings or fines.
Because these after-hours venues are private businesses, there's no question about their right to exist. So, when it comes to keeping the community safe, Public Information Officer Sgt. Raymond Miller says they must strike a balance and there's only so much they can do without the public's help.
"We need people to report those incidents so we can document it, so it doesn't happen in the future," said Miller.
One avenue police have, is recommending alcohol license suspension for violence, when applicable.
Taking away or suspending liquor licenses is one way to hold businesses accountable for the violence. The loss of income from not being able to serve alcohol has forced some establishments to shut down.
The Player's Club, which police say was still serving alcohol in March after being served a state emergency license suspension in February for repeated violence and other violations are now facing legal penalties for its actions.
That's why police say their focus is on building connections instead of over-policing or increasing their presence outside of the strip clubs.
"It's really just building that community relationship with the owners. Now employees know when they can trust us and that we're going to respond for the best of the community," said Miller.
However, the legal process takes time, and it takes several violations to get to the point of license suspension.
Player's Club is the only one of the four currently active strip clubs with alcohol licenses in Lexington to be served an alcohol suspension order since 2019.