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2000-04-04
Mesa, AZ. Wal-Mart's Trooper in a Trailer

In an arresting case of public-private cooperation, police officers in Mesa, Arizona (where citizens just happen to be fighting a proposed Wal-Mart superstore), can now be seen patrolling the aisles of the Wal-Mart discount store on W. Main St. This has become familiar terrain for the cops, since the Wal-Mart was among the top 10 places for calls for service. In response to all the shop lifting and other crime at Wal-Mart, the Mesa Police developed a program called the Theft Reduction Action Program (TRAP). According to the Arizona Republic, the Mesa store lost at least $100,000 last year on phony checks alone. Now Mesa Community Policing Officer Helen Simmonds "is often seen at the store, talking with employees or customers who have expressed their appreciation." Simmonds is stationed "outside the Wal-Mart in a trailer provided by the store." The police claim that by stationing a "cop in a trailer" in the parking lot, that they have cut shoplifting calls by 22%, and calls for police assistance by 30%. It seems that this TRAP program is modeled on similar police presence at Las Vegas, Kansas City, and other places where crimes at Wal-Mart were apparently serious enough to warrant this visible response> The Mesa police are even allowing Wal-Mart security personnel to hand out summonses. Now when Wal-Mart apprehends a shop-lifter, they can file the paperwork withouth waiting for an officer to respond. How efficient! At the end of each week, Officer Simmonds just picks up the paperwork and files warrants. Other communities like Phoenix and Tempe are giving the TRAP program a serious look, which suggests that Wal-Mart stores in those communities are also having crime problems.

What you can do: The newspaper story of the TRAP program shows a photo of the "Officer in a Trailer" and her boss, standing in front a sign that says "working together to keep prices low and our community safe!" The fact is, Wal-Mart would not need a TRAP program if it was not suffering from considerable crime. This is something for all communities to consider: what is the cost of dealing with crime? How much does it cost Mesa to station a cop at Wal-Mart? Thanks for the trailer -- but what is the cost to taxpayers of having all this TRAP personnel spending time walking through the store to protect Wal-Mart's inventory? Is there some reason why cops should be filling in the holes in Wal-Mart's own security? How much taxpayer subsidy should any community give to a retail store? Instead of community policing at taxpayer's expense, what efforts is Wal-Mart making to provide its own security protection? As we have said often: big stores attract more than shoppers. They attract criminals as well, and there is a public cost to this rising crime at superstores. The TRAP program is a perfect case in point. A Target store in Mesa is apparently also desirous of getting a city cop to hang out in their parking lot. This "Trooper in a Trailer" has great appeal. And it helps keeps Wal-Mart prices low, everyday. This is one "top 10" story that Wal-Mart may not want to brag about. One thing worries me: The "greeter" at Wal-Mart was supposed to take care of 'shrinkage' by eye balling customers for stolen merchandise. I sure hope Wal-Mart doesn't put cops in the doorways instead of greeters. That would be a REAL crime...










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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