It isn’t really a secret that the former Tobe’s Motel — now named Oneida Family Motel — has become a hotspot for crime and a hangout for ne’er-do-wells in Oneida. Anyone with a police scanner knows that law enforcement officers are routinely called to the motel to investigate a variety of incidents, many of which are related to illicit drug activity.
During a conversation with an Oneida Police Department officer in late 2016, I developed the idea of doing a story examine just how often police officers do visit the motel.
In late January 2017, I phoned Oneida Chief of Police Darryl Laxton and asked for a copy of his call logs for the 2016 calendar year, specifically to determine how often OPD officers were on site at the motel.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, Laxton had actually been keeping a separate log of incidents involving the motel, and was preparing to ask the district attorney general’s office if there was relief for the town under the state’s nuisance statute.
Laxton did not ask the Independent Herald for a story to drum up public support for action against the motel, nor did he approach us about the story idea. It was merely a coincidence that our investigation started at the same time that Laxton was preparing to approach the D.A.’s office regarding the motel.
Our story, which ran in the February 16, 2017 edition of the Independent Herald, found that police visited the motel 169 times during the 2016 calendar year. Coincidentally, the week before our story was scheduled to run, police made arrests at the motel on two separate occasions; those incidents were included in our investigative report.