Who Should Pay?

 

Walmart: A Public Safety and Taxpayer Crisis

When it comes to public safety, most Americans rely on local law enforcement and other first responders to be there when they need them. In fact, we pretty much expect these public services to respond when we call for help.

But what if you couldn’t count on local police to respond as quickly or efficiently because of budget cuts? And what if you found out that Walmart was draining law enforcement resources by its excessive number of police calls for things like petty theft and small crime? Imagine if the police couldn’t respond to your family emergency because they were too busy arresting someone at Walmart who stole a $2.00 candy bar.

In Raytown, Missouri, Walmart was responsible for more than 2,500 police service calls from 2015 to 2017.[1] In the Kansas City metro area between November 1, 2016 and November 8, 2017, police were called 9,622 times to 24 Walmart stores, including 1,306 calls for the two stores in Lee’s Summit and 769 calls for the two stores in Independence[2]. Across the country, in Phoenix, Arizona, between January 2011 and July 2016, police responded to 11 Phoenix Walmart stores a staggering 29,881 times. And in 2014, police were called out to Tampa, Florida metro area Walmarts nearly 16,800 times. When you take into consideration how much time and money each police dispatch call costs, this is a huge drain on taxpayer funded resources. And Walmart is to blame.

You might think “Walmart pays taxes, so it has a right to use these services just like any other business.” But what if you found out, as is the case in Raytown, Missouri, that none of Walmart’s real property or sales taxes pay for any public service? It might leave you wondering “Who is paying for the excessive police presence at Walmart?” And the simple answer is: you are.

Walmart: A Bad Community Partner

Walmart offloading its security costs onto taxpayers and local police is another tactic of Walmart’s to squeeze the most it can out of our communities. Instead of hiring adequate security, Walmart is bleeding our taxpayer-funded resources and creating a gaping hole in our cities’ budgets.

But across America, towns are standing up and fighting back. In Springfield, Missouri, after local police met with Walmart, they worked out a solution that included making video monitors more visible and placing station greeters and loss prevention officers near store exits. Walmart’s five Supercenters saw a 19% reduction in police calls for service in the first nine months of 2016.

After the mayor of Beech Grove Indiana declared Walmart a public nuisance in 2015, Walmart invested millions of dollars to hire off-duty police officers and more staff, and stopped calling the police for stolen items under $50, dropping the number of police runs by 47%.

Even more solutions have been found in cities in Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas, Michigan, and New York.

As for Raytown, Missouri, Walmart’s police calls are so excessive, it’s contributed to the town’s budget crisis and subsequent elimination of 30 law enforcement positions, including 17 police officers.

Coming together to find a solution to Walmart’s greed is not only a smart investment, but critical to the safety and financial wellbeing of our communities.

So, next time you drive past your local Walmart – pay attention to how many police cars are parked out front, or the next time you read about another shoplifting arrest at Walmart – ask yourself, shouldn’t Walmart be paying for its security and not us?

 

 

[1] Number of calls includes data provided by the Raytown Police Department.

[2] Number of calls based on data received from local police departments.