Greenwood officials advance plan to regulate hotels, cut crime

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GREENWOOD, Ind. – A proposed ordinance designed to cut crime rates by regulating hotels unanimously passed the Greenwood City Council.

The ordinance, written by at-large council member, Drew Foster, would require hotels to be licensed by the city and keep crime and emergency call rates to certain limits in order to stay in business.

“I believe this will help improve out city and make it a more desirable location for businesses and other people who want to move down here,” Foster said.

Bob Dine, former Greenwood Police Chief and current member of the city council, says it’s no secret that several hotels near the I-65 Greenwood exit have become hot spots for crime over the years.

“The drug usage, the domestic violence, the medical runs,” Dine said. “The reputation gets out that this is a safe place to come if you want to sell drugs, use drugs. It’s a safe place to come if you want to hide out from the police.”

In particular, the InTown Suites Extended Stay, Red Carpet Inn Fanta Suites and Red Roof Inn have accounted for roughly 550 police runs since the mid-point of 2018. Within the last five weeks, Greenwood police have been called to the InTown Suites 21 times, the Red Carpet Inn 13 times, and the Red Roof Inn six times.

“We’ve had overdose calls where the people are dead,” Dine said. “And when we get there the other people that have been there with them have cleaned the room up and swear they don’t know what’s happened.”

Under the current wording of Foster’s proposal, hotels and motels would pay a $25 fee to receive a license, issued by Greenwood police. The license would last for five years.

Conditions of the license would require a hotel to limit emergency calls to a specific formula. If a hotel has twice as many emergency runs as it has rooms within a one-year period, its license could be put on probation.

Probation would require hotel management to meet with city leaders, police, fire, and health officials to examine ways to solve ongoing issues.

“If you’re on probation, you can’t take cash, you might have to hire private security and other things that can get your business back on track so it’s a productive member of the community that everybody’s proud of,” Foster said.

“When you see people rent the first floor rooms and they take the screen out the first hour there, you need to know people are coming in and out the window.  They’re not using the front doors,” Dine said.

If conditions of probation are met, including maintaining health and environmental standards, a hotel could be taken off probation. If not, the hotel’s license could be revoked, forcing the hotel to shut down.

Foster says a hotel could appeal a revocation to the chief of police, the board of public works, and eventually county courts.

“I’ve lived here all my life and I want us to have something that when you come into the city, you’re proud of and looks nice,” Foster said.

The ordinance is now heading to a committee to examine the language and address some questions. Questions include whether a five-year license is too long, and whether a $25 fee is enough to cover administrative costs.

Foster hopes to have those questions worked out and the language finalized within the next couple months so it can go back to the council for another vote. If the ordinance passes, Foster hopes to have it made effective in January.

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