COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH) — Crime in the Northland community has plummeted since the city shut down several hotels.
Pat Wood has lived in the area for 40 years. She is the Sharon Woods Block Watch Coordinator and says complaints about drugs and prostitution have dramatically changed.
“I see a decrease in crime. There’s a feeling when you drive down 1-61. There’s a little bit of peace. You don’t look over and wonder what’s going on,” Sharon Woods Block Watch Coordinator Pat Wood said.
Wood has worked tirelessly with the President of the Northland Community Council Emmanuel Remy and Assistant City Attorney Bill Sperlazza to make a difference.
There are five nuisance abatements on Columbus Inn & Suites, Super 8, Best Western, Red Carpet Inn and Knights Inn all on the north-side.
The nuisance abatements meant each hotel had to be boarded up for one year and each of the owners could not maintain a nuisance property anywhere in Columbus.
According to the Columbus Police Calls for Service in the Northland community, the numbers have dropped from 3,752 calls in 2012 to 2,234 calls in 2015. Assistant City Attorney Bill Sperlazza said the 40% drop shows the progress since the city prosecuted several hotel owners in the area.
“Shutting down the places where the criminal element does business has been a fantastic change in this area and we have heard that from citizens, from members of the block watch community, but we’ve also heard from patrol officers that they have much more freedom to control the neighborhood,” Assistant City Attorney Bill Sperlazza said.
Sperlazza said one of the first offenders was Columbus Inn & Suites. It was the first hotel to be deemed a nuisance on June 11, 2013. Knights Inn was closed on November 20, 2014 and has since re-opened. It’s now called M Star, but is under strict guidelines.
The hotel owner must be high definition security cameras that show all entry points of the hotel and hotel rooms. Hotel owners must also give over the surveillance video any time law enforcement asks.
Emmanuel Remy also lives in the neighborhood. He said there’s been an obvious shift in people being more interested in living and working in Northland.
“Crime going down means huge things for the community. It means a rise in home values. It means a rise in people’s comfort level of people coming to shop in the neighborhood and so that’s very important,” Northland Community Council President Emmanuel Remy said. “I would say it just gives people a piece of mind to live here.”
Sperlazza said it’s encouraging to see hotels like the Red Carpet Inn get a new owner and be remodeled
If any of these properties are being maintained as a nuisance again, Sperlazza said the city will file a second nuisance abatement claim. Long-term, the city could seek a demolition removal if problems persists.