Metro Police Authority program keeps hotels on the same page

Now, at least four other police agencies are joining to create TIPP - Tourism Industry Police Partnership.
Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 5:45 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (3/29/2021) - A partnership to protect business and keep the community safe is now expanding across Genesee County.

The Metro Police Authority started a program in 2019 to connect with area hotels. The goal was making sure hotel staff was comfortable calling for help.

Now other hotels across the county want in, which has area police creating a whole new program with training too.

The Metro Police Authority covers both Swartz Creek and Mundy Township. With three highways running throughout their area, Chief Matthew Bade said hotels never know the guests they’re going to house. If the staff has an issue with someone, he didn’t only want the police to know, he said the hotels just blocks away needed to be aware too.

“Even though they’re in competition with each other, it’s mutually beneficial because it creates a more safe environment for the guests,” the Chief explained.

Chief Bade said this effort started with multiple calls for credit card fraud -- a big issue at area hotels. After a guest tries and fails at one, they noticed that person headed to another hotel close by. Off U.S. 23 and Hill Road, there are 6 hotels within a mile of each other.

“We’d rather be on the prevention side of things, rather than responding to a crime that’s already occurred,” the Chief said. “That was the impetus of this.”

The line of communication opened about two years ago with one of his sergeants reaching out to each hotel. Staff would send texts to keep the sergeant up to date on any issues. He’d then relay that information to the other hotels.

Now word has spread to hotel staff in other parts of Genesee County, prompting Flint Township, Grand Blanc Township Davison Township and Fenton City to join what’ll be called TIPP -- Tourism Industry Police Partnership.

“I think it’s going to create a sense of safety for people who either live in the area who have to stay in a hotel or have family members coming in, travelers,” Chief Bade said.

Soon the Chief explained TIPP participants will be connected through an app and monthly meetings. And, the police agencies are creating a training curriculum for hotel staff, too.

It’ll cover big deal crimes like how to spot human trafficking and drug trafficking. But Chief Bade said they’ll also help with more minor issues, like conducting a security survey of their property .

“Architecturally, they may already have some of that crime theory embedded into their design, but you look at things like natural surveillance - sight line, you know, what can you see, who can see you, lighting, access control things like that,” he explained.

Every participating hotel will soon have a plaque hanging in their lobby, letting guests know they’re a member of the program.

Chief Bade said another noticeable difference will be the visibility of their patrol cars increasing in the parking lots.

Genesee County’s Convention and Visitors Bureau is also helping get this program off the ground. It connected local hotels and venues with law enforcement -- to make sure everyone had a seat at the table.

Director Alaina Wiens said programs like TIPP are especially important as we look toward reopening the hospitality industry.

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