Tinton Falls officials are considering an ordinance that would require hotels and motels to make photo IDs mandatory for guest check-in something, presumably, that most such establishments already require of at least one guest per room.
But it would also require the inns to hang onto that info for six months, and turn it over to “any peace officer” on demand, without a court-issued warrant.
According to a story in today’s Asbury Park Press, the proposed law is nearly identical to one adopted in December by Point Pleasant Beach.
No rationale is offered in the story on the need for the proposed law, nor is there any discussion about why hotel and motel guests require more monitoring than people who merely eat in hotel restaurants or, for that matter, enter any other place of commerce.
Some members of the Borough Council, however, have expressed reservations about the “any peace officer” provision.
From the story:
“That’s a pretty broad term,” said Councilman Michael Skudera, who voted against introducing the ordinance at the council’s Jan. 16 meeting. “I won’t support it in its current form.”
Skudera has called for a clause that would require an order of a court to access the new records.
“In the past, courts have ruled that people have an expectation of privacy in a hotel room, and I believe this should not be infringed upon,” he said. “If information is required for an investigation, then a court order should be issued.”
The council has the option of amending the ordinance when it opens the hearing Tuesday. That’s just what Brendan Tobin, council president, said he would call for during Tuesday’s meeting.
“We need to tighten things up,” Tobin said. “We need to have some sort of chain of command so we can curb the access to those who really need it.”
A story in last Thursday’s Press said a similar proposed ordinance died in December for lack of council support.
In Point Pleasant Beach, officials told the Press in late December that they were prompted to act by “problems like drug activity, burglaries and other crime in the off-season, when many motels and hotels that don’t shut for the winter drop their rates and attract a longer-term clientele than in the summer months.”
But no data linking those crimes with off-season motel guests was cited in the Press’ single story (Dec. 21, archived) on the ordinance.
It’s also not clear from if the Point Pleasant Beach law allows “any peace officer” to review the guest registry information without a warrant.
The Tinton Falls countil meets at 7:30p Tuesday at the Borough Hall.