The recent mass shooting in El Paso has boiled over into a larger discussion of the strain that Walmart stores put on their local communities, particularly local police departments. With constant calls to the police over petty theft crimes and shoplifting and with seemingly little interest in providing their own security, Walmart’s policies are starting to wear down the patience of some towns.
Much of the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso focused on gun control, immigration, and white nationalism. After all, 22 people were killed by someone who was angry about immigration and was wielding an assault rifle.
Now that some of the dust has settled, though, The New York Times has started investigating how Walmart’s security policies could have played a role in the shooting. The results of that investigation painted a bleak picture of Walmart’s role in a town’s crime rate.
The concerns are not just anecdotal: One study made a clear connection between whether a Walmart store opened in a zip code and subsequent changes in that zip code’s crime rates during the 1990s.
Despite the crime problem in its stores, Walmart has repeatedly refused to do much about it. Instead, they continue to call police to come and investigate everything from assaults to shoplifting allegations.
The toll that this has taken on some local police stations has proven to be overwhelming. According to the story in The New York Times, Walmart stores filed a third of all the crime reports in some Kentucky police departments and called police in some Florida counties an average of twice an hour over several years.
The numbers betray a simple policy at Walmart, one that fits into its overarching business model: Walmart outsources store security to local police departments so it doesn’t have to pay people to do it.
The ramifications of that decision are very real for some people who get accused of shoplifting at Walmart. Rather than having an opportunity to defend themselves with a store manager, shoplifting cases at Walmart go straight to the police, where criminal charges are abruptly filed. Innocent people suddenly have to show that it was all a misunderstanding with the threat of a serious criminal conviction hovering over their head.
If you have been accused of shoplifting at Walmart and arrested in Portland, Saco, or Biddeford, the criminal defense lawyers at Maine Criminal Defense Group can help. Contact us online or call us at (207) 571-8146.
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