An Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office inspection of a Washington C.H. motel was misrepresented as a “drug raid” on social media Wednesday — causing concern among law enforcement officers and local officials.
In response to public complaints made about the City Motel, 1524 Washington Ave., and the Blue Stone Inn, 1809 Columbus Ave., personnel from the fire marshal’s office visited those two sites Wednesday morning. They were accompanied by individuals from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO), the Washington Police Department, the Washington Fire Department, the Fayette County Health Department, the local building department, and Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade.
“This all stemmed from different complaints such as sanitary issues,” said FCSO Chief Deputy Andy Bivens. “Obviously there have been some drug overdoses at both locations. So the Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office asked us to bring everyone together to do the on-site inspections at both of these locations.”
During the inspection at the Blue Stone Inn, a video circulated on Facebook claiming that law enforcement was on the scene of a “drug raid” and that multiple “warrants were being served,” according to Bivens.
“Contrary to other claims, we are not here executing multiple search warrants and there is no drug raid,” Bivens said. “There were some smoke detector issues found and probably some other citable issues from a sanitary standpoint. But I don’t want our community to be told something that isn’t true. I wasn’t going to let a totally bogus story go unanswered.”
Alan Smith, the assistant chief of the code enforcement bureau at the fire marshal’s office, said his office routinely performs inspections based on complaints. During the inspection of the Blue Stone Inn, a gas leak was discovered and repaired.
“We decide if we’ll do an inspection based on the amount of complaints we receive,” said Smith. “In this case, we decided to do the inspections. We always invite local officials so that they are a part of it. Law enforcement is asked to be here in case we have any issues. They are here for our protection…not to raid the motel.”
Smith added that there have been some complaints of drug overdoses at both motels, but that those complaints are not out of the ordinary.
“The health department is involved in case there are sanitary or mold issues,” Smith said. “Building code officials are involved because if there are any building code issues, we address them at the same time. It’s all about business continuity. This way we interrupt their business just once versus each agency interrupting it at different times.”
Any fire code violations are noted during these inspections and then re-inspections are conducted by the fire marshal’s office to ensure compliance has been reached.
“Today we did them (the Blue Stone Inn) a favor, we discovered a gas leak and we were able to address that while we were on-site,” Smith said. “We’re here to help business and we want to encourage business. It’s all about doing the right thing and making sure these rooms are safe for visitors to the area and guests of the motel. What you’re seeing is multi-agency cohesion and it’s a positive thing for the community. We certainly don’t want it to be portrayed as negative because it isn’t.”