Hotel crimes targeted by Indianapolis councilor’s proposal

Indianapolis City-County Councilor Jared Evans said Feb. 5, 2018, his proposed ordinance would pressure hotel owners to either clean up their act or possibly lose their licenses to operate. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A City-County councilor is pitching a plan to crack down on crime in hotels and motels.

Councilor Jared Evans said his proposed ordinance would pressure hotel owners to either clean up their act or possibly lose their licenses to operate.

“You need to know that the neighborhoods and communities are suffering at your businesses and, if they’re not willing to invest and make changes to help with that, then we’re going to have that conversation about ‘it’s time to close your business down,'” Evans said.

Managers at any hotel generating more than 1.2 police or fire calls per room in a year would be contacted by the city about taking steps to reduce crime. If they don’t comply, Evans said, the hotel owner could lose its license to operate.

Evans said the city will work with hotels to enhance their security and hotels won’t be punished if their own employees call police.

C.P. Patel manages the Travelodge Indianapolis South, formerly known as The Indy Lodge, at East Thompson Road and South East Street. Police and firefighters responded to the hotel more than 280 times in 2017.

Patel said he just took over as manager about six months ago.

“Before we got this place, it was a little bit more like police coming out and stuff like that,” Patel said.

He said he’s hired a security guard and police runs are down, but two people living at the Travelodge said there is still a drug problem at the hotel. The two residents asked to remain anonymous.

“If it seems like they are doing anything wrong, then we just call the cops right away, you know?” Patel said.

The Travelodge address averaged 2.13 calls per room in 2016 and 3.01 in 2017. In other words, Patel’s hotel would be under a spotlight if the ordinance were in effect.

He said he supports the ordinance, he’s banning problematic guests and he’s encouraging staff to call police when needed.

“It is a good idea actually,” Patel said. “So, we want to make sure that everybody coming here, they feel safe here.”

Evans said he’s expecting a full council vote on his plan in February or early March. He said the current ordinance on hotel licenses is vague and tough to enforce.