Montana Hotel Employees: Our Newest Drug War Soldiers


“….Hickman said signs hotel workers can look for include guests who pay in cash, give false vehicle information, and don’t let housekeeping into their rooms……”

Years of working all over Montana and Wyoming, staying in hotels for weeks on end taught me a few lessons.  Maids steal.  Not all of them, nor most of them, but many do.  I’ve had money, jewelry, cosmetics, flat irons, and clothing stolen while I was out of my room. None of it was particularly valuable, but the losses were extremely annoying and they certainly added up over the years, and none of the items ever turned up. I asked the housekeeping departments about my items, but most of the maids weren’t fluent in English, which further complicated the situation.  After my favorite necklace disappeared, I decided that I would no longer utilize housekeeping service.  Now, I’m considered suspicious.  I could be a drug dealer, user, or God forbid, a prostitute or one who enjoys their services.  I haven’t encountered any hotels that accepted cash payment, but if I had, I would have used cash.  It has been quite some time since a hotel required vehicle information from me, but I have never memorized my license plate number and I generally guessed- likely incorrectly.  I’m not a drug user or dealer, nor have I been or used a prostitute… although I do occasionally don some questionable boots.

From the Billings Gazette:

A two-month program to train hotel workers to keep an eye out for illegal drug sales or prostitution has resulted in arrests, law enforcement officials with the Central Montana Drug Task Force say.

Sgt. Chris Hickman of the Great Falls Police Department said workers are trained to recognize suspicious behavior, look for evidence of illegal drugs coming from rooms, and know who to call.

Hickman told the Great Falls Tribune that police are pursuing three active cases based on tips from lodging employees in Great Falls.

Hotels are trying to help in the effort, sometimes providing rooms to set up stings.

“A lot of the hotels in town are giving the complimentary space to get the bad guys,” said Sandi Thares, general manager of the O’Haire Motor Inn. “We’re not aiding, we’re trying to do what we can to help them.”

Hickman said signs hotel workers can look for include guests who pay in cash, give false vehicle information, and don’t let housekeeping into their rooms.

But Hickman noted that hotels and motels that cooperate with police can sometimes end up with bad publicity when arrests are made.

“It’s kind of like a double-edged sword,” Hickman said. “We’re not trying to pick on any hotels. We absolutely respect the heck out of these managers. They’re sending a message that we’re going to keep a sharp eye out for people.”

Last month police arrested a group of people authorities say were involved in drug sales. One of the buys, according to reports, took place in the O’Haire Motor Inn parking lot. Police said those arrests were made after getting a tip from an O’Haire employee who spotted the suspicious activity.

Thares said the benefits of stopping illegal activity outweigh the risk of the occasional bad publicity.

“Everyone wants to keep their community safe, and it’s a small way in which hoteliers can do that,” she said.

Hickman said criminal activity can show up at any motel or hotel.

“I couldn’t think of a hotel in town that hasn’t had some type of drug activity taking place,” he said.

Training ordinary people to become amateur sleuths is a frankly frightening concept for me.  While I can understand that hotel management and owners have concerns about illegal activities occurring on their property, the surveillance work should be left to the professionals- who already have access to a massive network of  government approved snitches in the form of informants. Digging through the luggage of guests presents massive security and privacy concerns as does investigating whether the sex partners of guests are paid. And what about the safety of the snitch?  Dangerous criminals tend to get even when they get mad. Our government already often punishes drug criminals more harshly than pedophiles and those who have committed violent crimes, and our tax dollars fund this war on our own people.  Involving ordinary people is dangerous on so many levels.

 

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4 thoughts on “Montana Hotel Employees: Our Newest Drug War Soldiers

  1. If anyone is arrested or harrassed while staying in a motel, I suggest you publicize it and spread the word and the rest of us boycott that hotel chain. In the final analysis, the owners will not want to lose business because someone was smoking a joint in a room.

  2. I can’t imagine if this kind of activity persists to happen. We want a safe and secured community, but I agree to that idea of training professional people to do the job of the housekeeping staff. It turned out to be the worst resort of solution to a particular problem.This just escalates the criminal act and not the answer to the problem itself.

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