Duval County

New crime fighting initiative to focus on Jacksonville hotels

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Hotel owners are coming together to stop crime before it happens.

It’s all part of a new initiative that creates a network of communication between hotels across Jacksonville.

It’s called the Tourism Industry & Public Safety Alliance, or TIPSA for short.

So far 30 hotels, and counting, have signed up to participate in the program.

This is the culmination of more than a year’s work after District 11 Councilman Danny Becton approached Visit Jacksonville and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.

“TIPSA will operate as an exclusive network that will work on the basis of if you see something say something,” said Becton during a Friday morning press conference.

It’s a volunteer program with three parts.

First, all Jacksonville hotels that participate will need to apply basic safety standards such as checking identification and standardizing payment processes.

Assistant Chief Paul Restivo, with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, is spearheading the effort for JSO.

“I’ve heard stories where they just take cash and they’re not asking for identification, so this person comes in comes out and they don’t have any information,” said Restivo.

Hotel owners will also have access to an exclusive email account where they can share information directly with JSO. And lastly, participants will join a WhatsApp group where they can communicate with other hotel owners.

Juned Noonari is in Jacksonville on business. He was happy to hear that the hotel he chose, Four Points by Sheraton on Baymeadows, is participating in the program.

“It’s a plus for me and the hotel where the program is and I will definitely choose that one over others,” said Noonari.

For Fred Pozin, general manager of the Ramada Conference Center in Mandarin, said comes down to improving communication.

“It’s exchanging good information between all of us so we can keep a better eye out for our guests,” said Pozin.

As for the hotels that don’t take measures to improve safety, Becton said they’re keeping an eye on them too.

“We’re going to put pressure on them right now to participate and not be part of the problem,” said Becton.