Sheriff and TGB Discuss Drug Use at Hotels in Hayward
Updated: Mar 1
By Joe Morey
Sawyer County Sheriff Doug Mrotek voiced concerns from Hayward business community members about the rise in drug use and disorderly conduct calls to police from area hotels where the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) has given vouchers to tribal members for hotel rooms.
“The vouchers are leading to a lot of drug use and drug dealing at the hotels, especially the Amerivue,” Mrotek stated. “We are seeing a lot of traffic coming in from the Twin Cities and this leads to increased disorderly conduct calls.”
Mrotek went on to explain about an individual who was running around last week outside in the 30 below temperatures with only one sock on, who was obviously under the influence of methamphetamine. Mrotek said he was arrested and spent the entire next day at the hospital having his foot looked at.
Mrotek said the city is discussing the possibility of an ordinance addressing the issue. He said they have talked with the owner of Amerivue as well.
LCO Chairman Louis Taylor questioned the sheriff on how he addresses the managers of the hotels. He told the sheriff that managers have control over who stays in their hotels. He said they can refuse to accept any persons who they suspect of dealing or using drugs.
Sheriff Mrotek said the problem isn’t the people at the hotels who really do need help, but rather it is about the ones who are causing repeat problems surrounding the drug use and drug dealing out of the rooms.
Chairman Taylor said he agrees with the sheriff that the Tribe needs to come up with a better way to help people who need help. The chairman said he opposes giving rooms and has never been approached to sign a voucher.
Currently, any council member can approve the room and authorize Accounting to pay for it.
The chairman added he doesn’t believe giving out rooms to persons involved in drugs is helping with the current drug crisis in the community.
“I understand trying to help our people but by giving out rooms we are just enabling them,” Taylor stated.
LCO Vice Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge said the Tribe has a serious housing shortage and most of the people they house in the hotels are those who are homeless. She said there are strict rules at the women’s shelter and many women won’t stay there for that reason. She added the new men’s shelter where the old domestic abuse shelter was on Hwy K is filled to a capacity of 15 men.
LCO Police Chief Tim DeBrot told the TGB that he understands where they are coming from by wanting to help their people when they are in need, but, unfortunately, there are people out there who are going to take advantage of the system.
“It’s probably going to have to be refined somehow and maybe there needs to be more criteria to meet the voucher approval,” DeBrot stated.
Sheriff Mrotek indicated he could give the TGB a weekly report on calls to the sheriff’s department from voucher rooms so that the TGB can get an idea of how many calls they are receiving and who is responsible for those calls.
All the members of the TGB were unanimous in their effort to continue helping tribal members who are in need or experiencing homelessness and need shelter. Another idea pushed forward was to have the members receiving vouchers sign a form that they will follow some rules while at the hotel and if they don’t, they will not receive any future vouchers.
TGB members also stated that the drug problem in the community isn’t just an LCO problem, but also involves Hayward residents as well.