It’s been about a year since business owner Deanna Nicholson shared with The Paris News her concern about criminal activity at a number of motels and extended stay facilities within the city, citing the number of police calls to a number of locations.
Paris City Council addressed those concerns at a Monday meeting and instructed Police Chief Bob Hundley to work on a safe hotel ordinance focusing on facilities where law enforcement receives an excessive number of criminal-related calls.
In May 2018, Nicholson shared information about International Crime Free Association, a Grand Prairie ordinance with Hundley and sent an informational email to councilors. Nicholson on Monday noted the program is much more than passing an ordinance. It includes training for property owners on the legalities of evicting tenants who commit drug-related and violent crimes while staying at a facility.
Nicholson said an incident at her business on Northeast Loop 286 prompted her to research what could be done to reduce what she sees as “a rampant problem that is not going to get better if we don’t address it.” She presented councilors with a petition with names of roughly 60 business owners.
Hundley shared with councilors the number of calls police have answered since January to a couple of motels on the northeast loop — America’s Best Value with 103 and Paris Inn & Suites with five.
“That’s the gamut between really, really bad and not so bad,” the chief said
Although the Grand Prairie ordinance includes apartment complexes, Hundley said he is concerned about litigation involving fair housing and recommended staying with hotels only. The police chief said he would recommend using the Grand Prairie ordinance as a guideline, using a ratio formula to grade motels into three tiers with enforcement only on those with the most service calls.
Paris Mayor Steve Clifford urged Hundley “to look at the stuff that makes the most sense and is least likely to get us involved with a lawsuit ... and try not to punish the people we are having the least amount of problems with.”
Councilors were in agreement with the mayor in an informal recommendation for the police chief to proceed with drafting an ordinance with City Attorney Stephanie Harris.
After the discussion, Nicholson said she was pleased with the indication from council that something will be done, but added she hopes something can be done to prevent hotel managers from accepting cash.
“When people think they can go and sell drugs and use drugs and not be questioned and not have to provide identification or a credit card, they are going to go to those facilities,” Nicholson said.