Albany motel owners speak out - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany motel owners speak out

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August 13, 2007

Albany--  It's a check-in two Albany motels weren't expecting. It came courtesy of Dougherty County District Attorney Ken Hodges.

"My goal quite frankly will be for them to clean up their properties," said Hodges.

A letter dated August 8th describes them as a drain on the resources of Albany law enforcement and the community. The Regent Motel manager Dave Patel opened the letter with surprise.

"It's already safe. I don't know where it came from, where the notice came from," said Patel.

Patel says crime isn't that bad here. He says things have already been put in place to reduce crime. "It's already safe. We have fences all around. There's one way in and one way out," said Patel. But he does admit there are problems with prostitution.

"When we do call the cops about prostitution, cops come and tell them to leave. Soon as they leave, they come right back," said Patel.

Patel plans to meet with the D.A. and authorities this week to clear the air. "It's safe right now. We ran everybody off. It's safe," said Patel.

But Ken Hodges says he's done his research. He found that between April of 2004 and May 2007, at least 312 calls were made from the Regent Motel to Albany law enforcement.  41 people were arrested by Albany Police and about 30 people were taken into custody by the Albany Drug Unit.

"They've had an excessive number of calls for service. They responded at least twice a week or more on average," said Hodges.

The Regent Motel wasn't the only one to get a reprimand. The Mabry Motel on North Slappey also got notice they need to shape up.

"This is important to the area and its important to the safety of the community," said Hodges. At the Mabry Motel, police responded to nearly 500 calls within 3 years. The owner says she's working to reduce crime and plans to have security in place within a month. Hodges says that's a start.

"They may put in surveillance cameras. They may do any number of things that other businesses would do if their location became unsafe," said Hodges. If not, both motels face consequences.

"The top end would be shutting it down and forfeiting it to the state and selling it to someone who will run it consistent with laws of the state," said Hodges. Patel feels they can't control what goes on in their rooms after they check and photocopy ID but he says they will step up policies to stay open.

"I won't make it shut down. I'll do whatever they say," said Patel. If that doesn't happen, he could face a permanent check-out from the city of Albany.

Ken Hodges says they have their eyes on some other businesses they've received complaints about. The Royal Inn along with another business could receive a letter soon.  

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