Cops stop accepting guest list of motel with high crime rate

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — The police chief in Warwick said his department has stopped accepting a daily guest list from a city motel with a high crime rate.

Chief Stephen McCartney said Thursday that the program has been discontinued out of concerns about legal ramifications and the possibility of the lists becoming public documents.

The program allowed Motel 6 managers to give police the names of guests so police could check for outstanding warrants. It aimed to curb frequent criminal activity at the motel.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island protested the program after it started, calling it an invasion of privacy.

But McCartney said the attorney general's office told him it was legal for his officers to have the motel's guest list because Motel 6 had initiated communication about it.

The practice was in place for roughly 16 days and officially ended April 23. McCartney said the information was not useful enough to deal with public scrutiny.

"The information is sensitive," McCartney said. "All we're doing is raising a lot of eyebrows about things that we quite frankly don't need to have."

He said police will still go to the motel and check the list if they have reasonable suspicion that a crime might take place.

The ACLU of Rhode Island called the change superficial, since police still would have access to the guest list.

Warwick is the second-largest city in Rhode Island, with about 82,000 residents.