WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — On Tuesday, Warwick officials and corporate leaders from Motel 6 agreed upon new safety measures for the chain’s troubled location on Jefferson Boulevard. Now, the American Civil Liberties Union is contesting one of the facets of the agreement.
The Motel 6 just off I-95 in Warwick has been a hot bed for criminal activity as of late, with police making 75 arrests through hundreds of visits in the last 14 months alone. On March 15, police busted a suspected meth lab in one of the rooms, and a few days later they found a missing 17-year-old girl and charged a Massachusetts man with trafficking her for sex.
In an effort to combat the spike in crimes, the city and Motel 6 settled on terms that include raising the check-in age from 18 to 21, expanding security coverage and not renting rooms to patrons arrested for serious crimes.
The motel also agreed to share their guest list with Warwick police on a daily basis, which the ACLU is calling an invasion of guests’ privacy.
“When visitors go to a hotel for the night, they expect to be treated like guests, not potential criminals. Yet the blanket agreement between the Warwick police and the motel – sharing the guest list of all of its patrons on a daily basis – is hardly the sort of ‘hospitality’ one anticipates from such an establishment,” said Steven Brown, executive director of the ACLU’s Rhode Island chapter. “A family on vacation should not be fearful that police may come knocking on the door in the middle of the night, courtesy of the motel, because Dad has an outstanding parking ticket he never paid.”
Brown went on to say the agreement sets a troubling precedent and goes against the motel chain’s policy to protect the privacy of guests’ information.
“There are many ways to deal with illegal activities at the motel without engaging in such a wholesale invasion of patrons’ privacy,” he said. “In the absence of some suspicion of wrongdoing, a person on vacation should not expect their private information to be shared with the government in this way.”
The ACLU hopes to have that part of the plan rescinded, or at the very least have the motel inform all customers prior to check-in.
Officials from Warwick and Motel 6 have not yet commented on the matter.