Senior staff writer
Walmart representatives have informed Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley that they will increase security at their store on Emerson Avenue in the wake of the June 4 fight between two women that went viral on YouTube.
Buckley announced the store’s steps to improve its relationship with the city during a public safety meeting with residents at City Hall on June 18. Walmart representatives informed Buckley that they would have a security officer on duty at the store, improve fencing on the property, disallow overnight semitrailer parking and have Beech Grove police remove panhandlers from parking areas.
Walmart security will not call the police on shoplifting incidents involving less than $50 of merchandise. Security and managers will deal with first-time shoplifters.
“I left the meeting feeling very good about it,” Buckley said. “Our goal is for them to be a better partner, to contribute to the city and to quit draining our (police) resources.”
The June 18 meeting with a regional manager, corporate attorney, media director and security director had a higher profile than a meeting one year ago that left Buckley disappointed.
Beech Grove police made 789 calls last year between February and December and nearly 500 calls to the store already this year.
Buckley, however, cautioned, “I will give them their due and be patient and see what they do in the next two weeks.”
He also reported on the status of the vacated St. Francis Hospital and noted that a veterans organization has expressed interest in buying the property. The mayor, who is not optimistic about the proposal, said the enclosed walkway that links the hospital with two vacated buildings over Sherman Drive will be torn down within two weeks.
To improve public safety, Buckley expects the city to hire a new patrolman and firefighter and buy five new police cars by the end of this year; another patrolman and two firefighters should be added in 2017. Buckley also said steps will be taken to improve security at police headquarters by adding a receptionist from 4 p.m.-midnight.
A compliance report revealed that 1,201 cases have been handled since April 2014, with 49 tickets issued, including 23 for tall grass and 12 for trash or junk. Residents can make reports of unkempt property or other potential violations by calling 803-9099 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buckley also reviewed a police shooting on South Fourth Street and a police chase that was called off after a theft at Walmart.
He said the city has declared Motel 6 on Churchman Avenue a public nuisance and explained the steps that management must take to avoid fines.