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(Here is an excerpt from some of Mr. Zehring's training curriculum)




This question has a multitude of answers depending on whom you ask. The best answer is found in combining resources. A partnership with police and property managers will push crime out of the area.

Overnight lodging managers are sometimes quickly frustrated when trying to report crime problems to the police. It appears the police are in too much of a hurry to get to the next call or the next cup of coffee. It just seems the police don’t show enough interest. If they cared, they would arrest the troublemakers, right? Well, it’s not always that easy.

On the other hand, police officers are sometimes quickly frustrated when trying to solve crime problems in overnight lodging because some managers appear to be apathetic toward crime. It appears that some managers intentionally rent to anyone, even criminals, as long as they can pay the bill.

The truth is, there are some managers and police officers that could do a better job. But the majority of police officers and managers are doing their level best. Working together in a cooperative effort, managers and police can successfully reduce crime.

The Air Displacement Theory

If a balloon is squeezed from one side, all of the air is displaced to the other side. When the pressure is released, all of the air comes right back. The police have this same effect on crime. The police can respond to a crime problem, apply pressure, and temporarily displace the troublemakers, but as soon as the police move on to the next problem area, (and they WILL have to), the troublemakers return.

Now visualize management squeezing the topside of the balloon, maintenance personnel squeezing the bottom side of the balloon, police officers squeeze from one side and front desk personnel the other side. Do you know what will happen? The balloon will burst.

Civil Laws vs. Criminal Laws

Police officers usually do not have sufficient training in the civil laws regarding overnight lodging. Frequently, the police expect or even ask the management to do things that they simply are not allowed to do. The reverse is also true. Frequently managers ask the police to do things that they are not allowed to do either. If neither the management nor police officer communicates these limitations sufficiently, the lack of action is viewed as apathy.

To clear up the matter, we first have to see the differences between civil and criminal matters. They have very little in common. In fact, sometimes they have NOTHING AT ALL in common. Hotel/motel managers work with civil laws, while the police work with criminal laws. The rules and the penalties are entirely different.

The amount of evidence a police officer needs for probable cause (to make an arrest) is much higher than the preponderance of evidence a hotel or motel manager would need to evict a guest. Therefore, it is easier for the management to remove a guest than it is for the police, in most cases.

Under criminal laws, the police must have ‘probable cause’ to arrest someone. Suspicion is not enough. Probable cause is where an officer knows a crime happened, and believes the perpetrator is the one being detained. When an officer begins to question the person who just got arrested, they must tell the suspect about their "right to remain silent." In most cases, the police cannot enter or search a guest’s room without a search warrant or other exigent circumstance.

Managers, on the other hand, can question guests without reading them their "rights" and they can enter the guest’s room without a search warrant. A police officer doesn’t have the power to evict a guest. Management has the legal right, and sometimes a legal duty to remove guests from the property. The manager is the only one who can make that guest go away. Under civil law, it is a relatively simple process.

Working under criminal laws, this is much more difficult. Even if the officer is able to build enough evidence to arrest a suspect, there is no guarantee the county attorney or prosecutor’s office will file charges. If charges are filed, there is no guarantee the person will be brought to a jury trial. If the person is brought to a jury trial, there is no guarantee the jury will convict. If the jury convicts, there is no guarantee the person will go to prison. If the person goes to prison, there is no guarantee they will stay there very long.

In many cases, plea bargains are made, probation is given, and in some situations, the charges are simply dropped. In most cases, the people that get arrested at hotel/motel properties do not go to prison. They are released very soon after being arrested and many times they return to their life of crime.

Remember, if criminals consider your property a "safe place" or home for their criminal activity, they will no doubt return to your property and the process begins again.


If the guest has committed a breach of your rules, in some cases you can request them to vacate the premises immediately. An example of this is a loud party with too many guest and alcohol in the room. Another example is non-payment. Sometimes managers let cash paying guests stay in the room believing they will get paid when the guest’s pay check comes in a few weeks. Unfortunately, many times this good faith attempt at satisfying a guest becomes a police report when the room is found empty on the day the final payment is due.

Numerous PBX Calls To and From Room

Numerous PBX calls within a short period of time may be an indication of criminal drug activity. This would not be enough information for the police to make an arrest or search a guest’s room. You may also notice that several guests have been in and out of the room within a short time, which may also be an indication of criminal drug activity. This still would not amount to enough information for the police to make an arrest or search a guest’s room.

In this case, the manager or their designee can go to the room (best if accompanied by another employee) and question the guest. Management should look for suspicious items placed in windows. These items may alert drug buyers to the room where the drugs are being sold. The manager can inquire if everything is all right in the room, stating that the PBX operator informed them of numerous calls to and from the room.

The manager may stress to the customer that the management provides phone records to the police and works closely with law enforcement to reduce criminal activity on their property. If this was a location where a drug dealer has set up shop, they won’t stay anymore.

Drugs Found In The Room

What will you do if drugs are discovered by an employee in a guest’s room? First, do not take the drugs to the office. You can be seriously hurt doing so. If the room is still occupied by a guest and housekeeping has entered to clean the room, the police should be notified and housekeeping employees should leave without disturbing anything in the room. Maintain visual contact on the room so you can tell the police if anyone came into and left the room.


Drugs can be extremely dangerous; caution should always be exercised. It is not advisable to pick up or remove drugs, drug pipes, needles or other paraphernalia with your bare hands. At the very least, rubber gloves should be worn when touching any of these items. Needles are especially dangerous, not only because of the drug hazard, but also because of the likelihood of the transmission of Hepatitis or H.I.V. Industry specific gloves are available for purchase with reinforced fingertips to further aid in the prevention of skin contact.

Because children and adults frequently crawl into dumpsters, do not discard needles or other drug paraphernalia into the trash. Call the police. Maintenance and grounds keepers should always be on the lookout for needles or drug stashes in remote areas of the property, including behind dumpsters and inside broken sections of block fences.

This website is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Click here.