FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Whether it’s an unruly hotel guest or a different crime, hotels can now stop or prevent illegal activity a lot easier thanks to the Business Watch program that the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office launched in August.

“It just allows us to get in there, help the business and ensure that their business is not only safe for themselves and their employees, but for their customers,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said.

Staly said it’s like the Neighborhood Watch Program but for the business community and they’re starting with hotels. He said their Homeland Security Unit, which is part of the real time crime center, visits the properties to make suggestions and educate management. Hotels also register for the Silent Guardian Program, which informs deputies of where their security cameras are located.

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“We can log in and if we have real time access, to watch that activity in real time, so deputies are responding or if we’re trying to keep the community safe, we can see what’s going on,” Staly said.

Or, if a crime already happened, the deputies can locate the nearest surveillance camera and speak with that business to gather more evidence.

Lisa Robinson is the general manager for the Hampton Inn and Suites in Palm Coast and is one of the six hotels participating in the program.

“We watch the parking lots, we gather people’s tag numbers. We make sure that when our landscapers are out, they’re not having trees and things that impede the guests view so that they feel safe,” she said.

Robinson said staff is also trained on how to report crimes properly. She participated in a similar program in a different city and knows the benefits of communicating with other hotels.

“When people unfortunately have been trespassed or they have caused problems at other hotels, it’s important that they don’t ride to your property with the same problems,” she said. “Because we sit so close to I-95, you never know who’s getting off the exit for whatever reason.”

The sheriff’s office said they’ve had five virtual meetings so far and will soon invite more businesses to join.

“We’ve reduced crime 47% in the last three and a half years in Flagler County and this is just a piece of it to maintain that and hopefully drive it even lower,” Staly said.

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