City of Lakewood to combat crime and violence at hotels and motels with new ordinance

Posted at 9:12 PM, Mar 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-23 01:10:06-04

LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Since 2015, half of the number of homicides in the City of Lakewood have happened at a hotel or motel. City leaders plan to do something about that frightening statistic with a newly passed ordinance that takes effect March 30.

Thirty-year-old Lakewood resident Gerry Gallegos has seen the violence too often, literally in her backyard. Denver7 met her in 2017 after an eight-hour standoff took place in her house when a suspect trying to avoid police ran from the Crossland Economy Studios next door into a crawlspace beneath her home. She’s been aware of far worse crimes too.

"There's been a couple of murders over there in the past years; prostitution, drugs -- big time," said Gallegos.

In 2017, more than 3,000 calls for help were made from the 45 hotels and motels in Lakewood. A new licensing program is meant to curb that problem.

Lakewood's mayor Adam Paul said the city will track a year's worth of data to measure the number of calls to each location, then work with the businesses to lower them.

"Cameras, making sure that they’re taking ID's, or don't take cash. Making sure that they have a credit card. Don't rent to known criminals, people that have caused problems at your hotel, motel in the past," said Paul.

Every year the businesses have to renew their licenses and pay a fee, but they can be revoked, suspended or denied if a major crime occurs or there are outstanding orders from the health or fire department. There is a hearing process, as well.

"We've had our law enforcement officers injured while responding to calls of service," said Paul.

The idea is safety for everyone: the business owners, the motel customers, the neighborhoods and law enforcement.

"I think it’s gonna be good because they do get a lot of calls and they have more important things to do," said Gallegos. "I mean, I have to lock my backdoor and my front door when I’m working in my backyard. I’ve never had to do that, you know, I don't want to be a prisoner in my own house."