Is Walmart passing its crime buck to local governments?
Walmart gets noticed a lot. Millions appreciate the savings they receive at the chain’s stores. Others applaud its sustainability initiatives that benefit the environment. The company has also gotten plenty of attention for how it treats and compensates its workers. Now, Walmart is getting noticed for the amount of crime that takes place in and around its stores and the demands those problems place on local police.
A Bloomberg Businessweek article profiles a Walmart Supercenter in Tulsa, OK that has local police in the store up to 10 hours a day. According to the report, police have been called to this Walmart and three others in the city nearly 2,000 times over the past three years. As a point of comparison, police have been called to the four local Targets 300 times over the same stretch.
The amount of time officers spend in Walmart stores has budgetary consequences for local departments. Robert Rohloff, a squad sergeant in Tulsa, believes the chain is passing the cost of doing the job to local departments such as his.
“It’s ridiculous — we are talking about the biggest retailer in the world,” he told Bloomberg Businessweek. “I may have half my squad there for hours.”
Last year, a mayor in Beech Grove, IN declared the local Walmart a public nuisance and threatened to issue the store fines every time police are called to the location. The tension between Beech Grove and the retailer grew after a series of criminal incidents at the location, including a brawl between two women and a six-year-old boy in the shampoo aisle. A video of the fight went viral on the internet.
Walmart is not deaf to the criticism and has pledged to improve, but the changes needed are not coming quickly enough for many in law enforcement. Many believe the problems could be reduced if the stores added staff. Some question whether Walmart’s board and management are willing to incur those costs when it can instead pass the buck to municipalities.
- Walmart’s Out-of-Control Crime Is Driving Police Crazy – Bloomberg Businessweek
- Is Walmart a public nuisance? – RetailWire
- Utah’s high court says workers have the right to protect themselves – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is the crime problem at Walmart, as the Bloomberg Businessweek article suggests, worse than what is typical at other retailers’ stores? What do you see as the solution to the crime problem at Walmart for the retailer and local governments?