Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Board Renews Order of Round-the-Clock Police at Rodeway; Crime Has Dropped, but Safety Issues Haven't Been Fully Addressed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Board Renews Order of Round-the-Clock Police at Rodeway; Crime Has Dropped, but Safety Issues Haven't Been Fully Addressed

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski

ORANGE PARK | Three weeks' worth of around-the-clock presence by uniformed police officers and private security guards has nearly eliminated flagrant criminal activity at the troubled Rodeway Inn, but major public safety violations including a totally inoperable fire alarm system remain at the cheap 200-room business on Park Avenue.

The town's Nuisance Abatement Board voting unanimously Monday night ordered motel owner Rick Patel to keep uniformed off-duty law enforcement officers stationed at the business along with the private security service he's hired for at least another 30 days.

The board also told Patel he must appear before it on Nov. 16 with a detailed plan including times for fixing the broken fire alarm system, repairing the security video live-feed system between the motel and Orange Park Police Department, and making other necessary repairs to ensure the business is up to current safety codes.

That plan must be approved by both town Police Chief Gary Goble and acting Fire Chief Alvin Barker. In addition, the board told Patel it wants an update of other measures he has implemented to ensure the motel doesn't return to the unhealthy, unsafe and deplorable conditions that led the board to declare it a public nuisance.

The decision came after Goble and Barker updated the board about crime, fire safety and living conditions at the motel in the past few weeks since it ordered Patel to have police officers and private security officers on site, and it told him to bring the business up to fire and building code.

The board also heard from Patel as well as Chief Marcus Williams, who is president of Protective Enterprises of Florida, which is the security firm Patel hired to work at the motel.

Goble said criminal activity has virtually ceased at the motel since the 24/7 law enforcement presence started. …

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