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Indiana City Blazed Path For Arizona Lawmakers Upset With Walmart

(Photo courtesy of the city of Beech Grove)
Dennis Buckley, mayor of Beech Grove, Indiana

Local and state lawmakers have tried to publicly shame Walmart for being a drain on law enforcement, which is half of the formula an Indiana city used to take on the world’s largest retailer.

Officials in Beech Grove, Indiana, had the same concern as some Arizona lawmakers: constant police calls to Walmart were taking up too many resources.

Beech Grove officials took a two-pronged approach. Mayor Dennis Buckley spoke out from his bully pulpit, and the city wrote new laws, which let the police chief declare a business a public nuisance.

Then if an officer was called to the business, they could write a ticket "to the owner of the property, which in that case would be Walmart, and summon them into court," Buckley said. "And the ticket, after the third one, gets pretty steep,”

Those efforts brought Walmart to the negotiation table, which led to Walmart hiring police, creating a deferral program for shoplifters and remodeling the store, Buckley said.

“And I'm very happy with (Walmart),” Buckley said.

Crime affects all retail companies, and Walmart is committed to providing people with a safe shopping experience, said Blake Jackson, a company spokesman.

“We’re encouraged by a 35 percent reduction in calls to law-enforcement agencies nationwide, on average, since we began implementing Restorative Justice and other crime deterrence programs,” Jackson said.

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Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.