Framingham selectmen expressed their displeasure Tuesday with the managers of the Motel 6 and Red Roof Inn for what chairman Dennis Giombetti decried as a lack of security and underreported criminal activity.
The outcry came after Police Chief Steven Carl summarized the problems ongoing at the two hotels, and what is being done to address it.
“I think the number of calls and criminal activities in both your hotels are understated,” Giombetti told managers of both hotels. “You have little idea of what’s going on in your hotel.”
Selectmen grew concerned in May after reviewing the number of police calls for criminal activity, according to Giombetti.
As a result, Carl was asked to look at the numbers of service calls and begin working with the hotel managers.
“The numbers are just not pretty,” Giombetti said.
There were 121 calls for police service in 2012 at the Red Roof Inn at 650 Cochituate Rd., according to Carl. Of those, 41 were routine police compliance checks, and another 12 were medical in nature. However, police also responded to disturbances, complaints of inebriation, and armed robbery.
In 2012, there were 173 calls for police service at the Motel 6 at 1668 Worcester Rd., including 39 routine compliance checks and 24 medical calls. Similar to Red Roof Inn, police also responded to other calls, such as noise complaints and family problems.
In the first half of 2013, there were 47 calls for service at Red Roof Inn and 101 calls at Motel 6. Motel 6’s staff may have become more vigilant, leading to an increase in calls in 2013, according to Carl.
A July incident wherein an elderly woman and her dogs were found in unsanitary conditions at Red Roof Inn was incidental to the greater problems of drugs and prostitution, according to Giombetti.
The two hotels have been working with police to try to curb criminal activity, said Carl, including sharing a do-not-rent list — a “comprehensive list of undesirables,” so that evictees from one hotel do not rent from the other.
A training program is also underway that will teach hotel employees how to spot and report use of illegal drugs and alcohol, as well as prostitution, said Carl.
In addition, Red Roof Inn has raised its rate to $87 a night in order to make the hotel a less economic choice for those engaged in criminal activity, according to Carl.
Long-term residents at the Red Roof Inn will now have their rooms cleaned every three days, and their rooms will be changed every two to three weeks, said Carl.
At Motel 6, long-term residents’ rooms are now being cleaned once a week, and guests must change rooms once a week. Guests and their friends are no longer allowed to loiter outside the building or in the lobby, Carl said. Section 8 or shelter program guests are being required to physically check-in every night at 9:30 p.m., per state law.
Red Roof Inn General Manager Dan Fritz told selectmen that there is no on-site security other than surveillance cameras in the hotel lobby. However, that footage is recorded for review after an incident and not actively monitored.
The Motel 6 does not have security cameras, according to General Manager Joe Rosario, and there is only one person who works overnight.
“We try to train the staff on the different stuff out there, and what can cause problems at the property, and it’s helped out a lot,” Rosario said.
The responsive measures from both hotels were lacking, according to selectmen, and Giombetti said it was their “corporate responsibility” to hire private security to patrol their properties.
The town cannot limit the duration on how long a traveler stays at a hotel, however the town can revoke a hotel’s license if activities such as a drug use and solicitation are ongoing at the hotel, according to town council.
Giombetti said selectmen will be meeting with Carl again before the hotels’ licenses come up for renewal in mid-December. Until then, Giombetti told the managers, “We’re going to put you on notice.”
Some town residents were similarly displeased.
Sharing of information between hotels and police was “well intentioned” but “inadequate,” said Maureen E. Dunne, a Town Meeting member who represents Precinct 9, where the Red Roof Inn is located. Dunne said she wanted more concrete answers as to how the hotel intends to improve security.
Rosario and Fritz declined to comment further after the meeting. However, both managers have been very “engaged” in working with police, said Carl in an interview. However, Carl also added that he would like to see cameras in every hotel stairway and corridor.
The transient nature of the hotels’ clientele, as well as the hotels’ limited staff and budgets can serve as a “great multiplier” of problems, according to Carl.
“Crime is more visible” at hotels than at apartment complexes,” Carl told selectmen. “People come into town, commit their crimes of prostitution and drugs, and move on.”