December 8, 2014
Dear Mayor, Business Owners, and fellow Neighbors of Florence,
On behalf of the Super 8 – Dream St., I would like to extend my sincere gratitude for your
understanding and patience during the horrific events of late. As a small business owner, I understand
the impact such events can have on business, as well as peace of mind. That said, I would like to ensure
you understand the details of the event, our background, next steps and the partnership we are seeking
from the city of Florence to ensure that we help to deter any criminal activity, as well as help our city in
any way that we can.
The event which occurred on Dec 2nd, was horrible. But, there are a few facts that I would like
for you all to be aware of: the teenager was not a registered guest of the hotel. The room was rented to
a young, single mother who had 2 small children. We are not sure of how the 16 year old boy came into
the hotel. However, we have trained our staff to be vigilant – it was a member of our staff that thought
the constant cries of the children were suspicious, and called the police. The police arrived, and from
that point onward – you are all aware of what occurred.
What saddens me, and surprises me beyond belief, is the fact that we – the staff of Super 8, did
our duty as good citizens, to inform the police of suspicious activity, that lead to the police confronting
an individual that could have potentially used weapons outside of the hotel - and yet the finger is being
pointed in our direction as being a “nuisance.” If we had not called the police and asked for their
involvement, what if that teenager had used those weapons in a public place – a school, the mall, or a
theater – and many people had gotten hurt? If we had not called the police, and tried instead to resolve
the situation ourselves, what if a person from the staff had gotten hurt? We have always been told to
call the police the minute we are suspicious and to not take the law in our hands, however it is
surprising that – even though we did exactly that – we are being held liable for the events on that
unfortunate day.
The sad fact is that our business is but a mere 2 blocks away from the Police station, yet
criminals still feel confident to be in our area. At this point, the feeling from myself – and the staff – is
that we are fearful to involve the police. We are fearful that if we call the police for any reason, we are
putting our business at risk of closure. So, instead, we feel we are being put in a position to confront
situations ourselves, rather than being called a nuisance and risk involving the police. And this, is
absolutely not fair to us. We are citizens of this country, and of this city. The calls that we have made to
the police on that Tuesday, and the # of calls made to the police otherwise, are clear indicators that we
want the police involved to help us – however, we are fearing that we have to put our lives on the line
to help resolve situations for which we are not trained, and do not have the authority to resolve. The
sad truth is – the event which occurred last Tuesday could have occurred ANYWHERE. In fact, there was
a gunpoint shooting very recently at the Chipotle across the street – is the Chipotle to blame for that?
How can a business owner prevent or foresee these events? In fact, during the investigation, the Boone
Count Sherriff department also agreed that there was nothing we could have done to prevent and
foresee this event. We were victims of this crime just like any other business in the area – our staff could
have seriously gotten injured, we lost business for 2 days, and have a damaged reputation that will take
months to rebuild. But, instead, the city is looking at us as if we caused the event – and this is not fair.
We had nothing to do with that shooting, we broke no laws, and in fact – it was the vigilance of our staff
that probably caught a teenager that could have caused deaths in other parts of the city.
We met with the Honorable Mayor and the Commissioner of Police on Friday, Dec 5th, to discuss
the event and also discuss our abatement plan and how to ensure we are successful in helping to deter
any criminal activity in our city. Our intention was to partner with our city – we do not want this to occur
at our business, we do not want this to occur on our street, and we do not want this to occur in
Florence. However, when we asked for training for our staff, we were turned down and asked to go to
Gwinnett Technical College. When we asked for “Do Not Rent” lists to be provided by the police, we
were turned down. Essentially, we are being told to just know who the criminals are and not to rent to
them. However, this is unconstitutional – we cannot profile individuals based on their appearance or the
fact that they pay using cash, a legal currency of the US. But – if we are provided a list from the police,
we can ensure we do not rent to that list of people, and evict any individuals the police deem as
criminals. Just like the police cannot legally profile, the same way, we also cannot profile individuals;
but we definitely CAN partner to ensure we are trained on suspicious activity to report.
If the city is truly interested in reducing the # of hours spent on nuisance calls, and partnering to
deter crime and be rid of crime from our city, we are willing to provide any information and help that we
can. In fact, I truly believe a possible solution would be to provide the police a roster of our registered
guests every evening; we make photo copies of the ID of every guest, and will gladly provide any
information and evict any individual that the police suggests may cause issues on our property or in this
city.
It is in our best interest – our meaning the Super 8, the small businesses on Dream Street, and
the city of Florence, to partner together and fight against the crime, not blame a business for the issues
that occur. The business has not broken laws – we have privacy laws, anti-discriminatory laws, lodging
agreements and laws that we need to follow in the hospitality business that are at the state and federal
level. We do everything in our power to support the city – we do not break any laws, in fact the # of calls
to the police just prove the fact that we are looking for their support.
We are hoping that the Mayor of the city, the Florence Police and our good neighbors will be
understanding of everything that has occurred and everything that we are doing to help relieve the
situation. Again, situations like this only hurt our business and profitability, so we have absolutely no
reason to be uncooperative. Although we have implemented a video surveillance system, as well as
numerous other security measures as a part of our abatement plan, we will open our doors to any
information and any suggestions that the city has that we can legally implement to ensure we have a
safer community.
Sincerely,
Mahesh Nichani
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Florence Super 8 motel owner writes letter to mayor