Last year Blue Springs imposed regulations for hotels and motels in an attempt to reduce police resources spent on calls to those locations. A year later, police Sgt. Joe Fanara said the ordinance has had an effect, with the number of police responses seeing a dramatic decrease.
“We had a lot of calls in reference to physical disturbances,” he explained. “It seemed like we were spending a lot of time at local hotels.”
According to Fanara, the department was seeing five to six calls per day to hotels and motels, and the city’s Codes Department became involved when seeing poor conditions at establishments, such as trash piling up outside. And while crimes were being reported, management wasn’t monitoring the problem.
“A lot of crimes were going unsolved, and some of them were violent crimes,” said Fanara. With no cameras set up, less evidence could be found.
The City Council created a three-tier system for temporary-living establishments, and in Fanara’s words, forced them to clean up their act. Establishments are given a rating based on the number of police calls made per room each year, and more strict regulations are imposed upon establishments with a higher rating. Fanara said the ordinance mirrored one passed in Branson, Mo., which has a large number of hotels and motels due to its high tourism volume.
The rules include requiring a photo ID from all guests and allowing the police to make a crime-prevention assessment of a property. Establishments with a tier-three rating must provide the chief of police with the names of all hotel and motel operators and security staff, as well as hold semi-annual training sessions for employees and staff regarding crime prevention. Tier-three establishments are also required to install and maintain lighting in parking lots and outdoor common areas and enforce parking passes.
A year later, Fanara said calls to the hotels and motels of Blue Springs have gone down significantly, while accountability on behalf of management has gone up. For example, the Welcome Inn near Interstate 70 began as a tier-three establishment, meaning it had more than one police call for service per room each year, and is now tier one, meaning it has few calls to police.
Sgt. Fanara said the police department has “a very good partnership with the ownership and the managers.” He said owners are regularly in contact with the city’s crime prevention department. The hotel and the police department regularly share information.
“It (the ordinance) has greatly helped us, and it’s greatly helped create a stronger partnership with the hotels,” Fanara said.