The Red Roof Inn and Super 8 motels off Interstate 90 offer customers convenience, an inexpensive place to stay and quick access to Cleveland.
They also generate a lot of crime.
So far this year, police have recorded more than 120 incidents at those two hotels, ranging from drug arrests to prostitution.
Police have responded to more than 50 calls at the Super 8 motel at 25200 Sperry Drive and more than 70 calls during at the Red Roof Inn at 29595 Clemens Road since January.
The calls include investigations and arrests for drug violations, prostitution, assaults and apprehension of people with outstanding arrest warrants. They also include minor calls for things like dog bites and suspicious vehicles or persons. There was one call to police because the bathtub in the motel room was not draining.
In one case, a suspicious motel employee called police because a man was walking back and forth outside her office. Police said the man was actually having a discussion with his wife on his cell phone.
Capt. Jerry Vogel does not apologize for the concentration of police presence at the two motels. He wants everyone to know that the police are always just minutes away.
“These are the first motels along I-90 out of Cleveland on the way to Elyria or Lorain,” he said. “They are relatively inexpensive and very convenient. We don’t want people to think they are an easy place to stop and make drug deals or engage in prostitution. We do everything to discourage that way of thinking, including reporting the incidents in the media.”
The city’s transparency in airing these crimes, petty or otherwise, is unusual. Many police departments discourage releasing crime information to the media for fear it will give a community a bad reputation. Vogel said Westlake sees it differently.
“People come here because they think we are a safe city, which is fine,” he said. “We want them to know it's not a place for criminals. Do we spend a lot of time at these two motels? Absolutely, but it’s time well spent.”
He said Westlake officers comb “internet sites” where prostitutes advertise for customers to meet them at motels. Sometimes, police arrange a rendezvous at one of the motels and then arrest the prostitute. Other times, police will go to the motel and look for prostitutes plying their trade. Motel officials will call and report suspicious activity including suspected prostitution or drug use.
Rather than object to the police scrutiny, the manager of the Super 8 motel encourages it.
“We work with the police to guarantee that there is no criminal activity at the motel and to make sure the guests are safe,” said manager Chris Boyas. “If we see someone suspicious, we call the police.”
Red Roof Inn did not respond to requests for comment.
Vogel said police officers routinely drive through the motel parking lots, checking license plates and talking to people. Recently, an officer saw a car door partially open and inside the car he saw a gun out in the open. An investigation into the owner of the gun and vehicle led to the arrest of a person wanted by police.
Earlier this month, police arrested four women and a man on prostitution and drug charges at the two motels. Vogel said the case of one of the women was particularly sad.
“She was arrested with a man and charged with soliciting (for prostitution) and drug possession,” he said. “The woman is disabled. She had no movement below the waist. Yet she admitted that she had had sex with a customer just the night before. What kind of life is that for a person?”
Vogel said some may think the level of scrutiny on the motels is unwarranted, but it will continue.
“I want people to know if they come to our city intending to commit a crime that we will be out there looking for them,” he said.
Michael Sangiacomo is a freelance writer in Amherst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.