City of Columbus boards up troubled hotel, looks for reduction in crime

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The Columbus City Attorney's office shut down a Super 8 Motel in the 2000 block of Brice Road in east Columbus Wednesday.

Assistant City Attorney Bill Sperlazza said for more than two years, police dealt with prostitution, drug deals, shootings, and robberies at the hotel.

The office filed a nuisance complaint against the hotel and received a court order to shut it down.

Police told CrimeTracker 10 even as they were boarding up rooms, officers discovered hypodermic needles concealed in a dresser in a room. The hotel owner, Pramod Patel, said he isn't to blame for his customer's actions.

"I cannot judge. You are coming as a guest. How would I know you are a prostitute or you are a drug dealer? How would I know?" Patel said.

Sperlazza said hotel owners can dissuade the criminal element from using their property as an office by checking identification, refusing to accept cash as payment, charging competitive rates and even hiring special duty police officers for security if necessary.

Sperlazza said constant crime at the hotel tied up police resources. In 2015, Columbus police took 150 calls for service at the Super 8. That number dipped to 127 in 2016.

Prosecutors said that kept police from patrolling nearby neighborhoods and businesses.

Two years ago, the city attorney's office shut down five crime infested hotels along the 161 corridor in north Columbus. A CrimeTracker 10 Progress Report in May 2017 revealed that resulted in a 52 percent reduction in major crimes.

"We want to bring those results here, and I think this is a great start today by taking the baddest of the apples in this neighborhood and plucking it," Sperlazza said.

Prosecutors said because Brice Road serves as a divider between the cities of Reynoldsburg and Columbus, the Reynoldsburg City Attorney is working closely with the Columbus City Attorney's office to make sure the criminal element doesn't try to set up shop across the road.