Investigation: Policing Fresno's Motels

Crimes at University Inn a concern for multiple law enforcement agencies

Fresno, California - Eyewitness News Investigates motel crime citywide that has the attention of Fresno Police. In a previous story we showed you the work being done to prevent crime at the University Inn near Fresno State. Law enforcement agencies hope the work at University Inn leads to change.  Police say motel security extends beyond the department and the University Inn.  

Gunshots ring out on a February evening, a gunman is on the run. All this unfolding near the University Inn just feet from the campus of Fresno State it's crime like this that keep Fresno State police officers concerned and on patrol. 
"We've seen an increase in activity in the area so we have actively patrolled in the area more often," said Fresno State Manager of Emergency Operations Amy Luna.  
Luna showed us the numbers. Fresno State police officers arrived at the University Inn 451 times for incidents in 2017 alone. 
"As long as we can keep pushing that crime back away from the campus then we are doing what we are supposed to be doing," said Luna.  
Standing shoulder to shoulder with Fresno Police Fresno State's police officers are offering support as the management at University Inn works with Fresno Police to upgrade security and accountability for people staying there. It's an effort Fresno State leaders hope will make a difference because the current situation is taking a toll.
"It absolutely does take up a lot of time and drain some resources that could maybe be directed somewhere else," said Luna.  
Even in Clovis the college area motel has a reputation 
"The name University Inn comes up regularly in our investigations and in our discussions about criminals in town that we watch and we contact and we arrest," said Clovis Police Department investigator Drew Mosher.  
Investigators say these familiar problems are costly.          

"It's causing us stress and resources, but it's in another agency's jurisdiction and I'm sure it's causing them more stress than it is us," said Mosher. 
It turns out in Fresno University Inn is just one of the motels officers are concerned about.
"This is a pretty rough part of town this residential section back here," said Fresno Police Department Officer Jordan Wamhoff who patrols the motels along Blackstone in Fresno's Central District. "We do have a couple of problem locations and they do draw a lot of resources."
Officer Wamhoff works closely with motel managers, but says fighting crime in and around these motels is a constant battle.      
"Motels specifically are hotbeds for those temporary types of activities coming into town, or moving drugs that type of thing," said Wamhoff. 
Especially when people turn these rooms into a form of permanent housing. 
"This car right here is actually registered to one of the rooms of the motel," said Wamhoff.  
Central Fresno officers are following a similar strategy to the one at University Inn to improve security. The goal is to one day free up the resources currently needed to police motels across the city. 
"We can only do so much on our end especially with our budget and the number of officers that we have," said Wamhoff.  
Officers say the result would better serve the city's tax payers and residents. 
"There's a lot more important things going on in Fresno than what we're getting called out for at motels," said Wamhoff. 

To help law enforcement in this citywide effort to crackdown on crime surrounding Fresno motels you can always call in tips to Crime Stoppers at 498-STOP. You can always remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward.  

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