Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?law/hotel.law

December 1990                                                     
                        POLICE PRACTICES                                     
                      OPERATION HOTEL-MOTEL                          

     The transient nature of drug dealers compounds law
enforcement's efforts to curb drug trafficking.  Those involved
n this illegal activity travel to cities and towns throughout
the United States to sell drugs.  In many instances, dealers use
to other areas.

     In an effort to curtail this practice, the Narcotics Unit
of the Omaha Police Department initiated Operation Hotel-Motel.
This is a program designed to inform local hotel and motel
employees of common characteristics and activities of drug

     To begin, drug investigators compiled a list of  
characteristics common to persons involved in illegal drug
activity.  Then, they canvassed local hotels and motels to
enlist their participation in the program.  To promote
cooperation in this effort, investigators advised the
managements that every effort would be made to keep the name of
the establishment out of the news media.  Over 50 establishments
agreed to participate.


     The next step in the program was training.  Drug
nvestigators instructed hotel and motel managers, front desk
and activities often exhibited by drug traffickers.  Also,
employees were told that scales, small plastic bags containing
counters, and packaging materials usually indicate involvement

     During the training, the investigators simply asked the 
employees to be observant of certain activity and items as they
carried out their assigned duties.  They also cautioned
employees not to take any action if they see something

ESTABLISHING PROBABLE CAUSE                                       

     Obviously, information on individuals displaying some of the 
nformation does provide a basis for opening an investigation and

     In two specific instances, information provided by an alert 
motel employee subsequently led to the arrests of two drug 
not provide probable cause initially, the surveillance conducted 
as a result of this information established sufficient probable 
cause for a search warrant each time.                             

     For example, during the surveillance conducted for one 
a triple-beam balance scale, commonly used to measure drugs, into 
a motel room.  On another occasion, a Los Angeles gang member was 
observed crawling onto the roof above his room and taking a sack 
from the roof inside.  In both of these instances, information 
nitially provided by astute hotel-motel workers led to the

BENEFITS OF THE PROGRAM                                           

     The Narcotics Unit offers a reward for information that 
leads to an arrest.  But, there is more to be realized through a 

     For example, the program establishes a good working 
community.  Investigators contact each participating hotel and 
motel regularly, at least every 2 or 3 months.  Also, uniform 
beat officers, all of whom have been made aware of the program, 
are encouraged to contact hotel and motel employees in their 
assigned districts to promote cooperation in Operation 

     This close working relationship also extends to other areas 
of police operations.  Oftentimes, investigators need rooms from 
most part, businesses involved in Operation Hotel-Motel provide
their facilities without hesitation.


     Operation Hotel-Motel began in 1988.  During the first year 
of operation, the Narcotics Unit made over 50 drug-related 
arrests at motels and hotels and seized more than 6 pounds of 
cocaine and over 40 pounds of marijuana.  The investigators 
confiscated approximately $50,000 in cash.  Recently, during a 
and the confiscation of several ounces of methamphetamine and 
cocaine, hallucinogenic mushrooms, LSD, two vehicles, two 
of Operation Hotel-Motel continues.                            


     Operation Hotel-Motel enlists the cooperation and 
Omaha's Narcotics Unit have made presentations on the program to 
law enforcement agencies throughout the Midwest.  Several of 
these agencies implemented identical or similar programs.         
between the police and the community it serves.  They are also an 
extremely effective method to combat the drug problem that


     Information for this column was provided by Sgt. Mark T. 
Langan, Narcotics Unit, Omaha, Nebraska, Police Department.