WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – The Chief of Police says his force is dedicating too many resources responding to crimes reported at just a handful of hospitality businesses in Wheat Ridge. A new hotel licensing program — unanimously approved by the city council early Tuesday morning — is hoping to improve safety at the hotels and motels.
“Police officers recognizing they’re spending way too much time at these nine businesses when there are calls for service on the board that they need to get to,” said Sara Spaulding, the Wheat Ridge Communications Manager. “What the license is designed to do is work with those businesses to help them reduce the crime that’s happening at those facilities, and therefore reduce the number of time officers need to respond.”
The new hotel license program will track the number of calls for service at a property. Businesses who have too high of a ration of calls of service to rooms could be punished. The businesses will also be required to make new accommodations for people staying longer than a month, enroll in a crime-free hotel program, and submit a safety plan to police.
“The hotels need to have some of these processes in place to minimize crime,” Spaulding said.
Wheat Ridge Police Chief Chris Murtha said the most frequent calls are for unwanted parties and suspicious vehicles.
The motel with the most calls for service is the American Motel on the north side of I-70 near Kipling. The owner pleaded with city council members to not implement regulations he says would be detrimental to business.
“Our business model has always been that we provide accommodations to those of moderate to lesser means,” said Don White the Co-Owner of American Motel. “If they don’t want us to house these people then we better work as a city to figure out where we’re going to put them because we have nowhere to call.”
White says his business, and many others nearby are providing a service for people in need. He says as long as someone can pay, and obey the rules, they have a place to stay. He thinks the city is choosing to punish businesses instead of addressing the needs of people who are unhoused.
“It’s a real problem that the community together, we all need to come together and work to combat it,” White said.
Hotels and motels will need to start complying in the new program at the beginning of 2022.