Policing Walmart

By Clint Parker

Weaverville – “Yes, this is the most active address for the police department,” said Weaverville Police Chief Ron Davis when asked about running calls to 25 Northridge Commons Parkway – Weaverville’s Walmart.
The address regularly appears in weekly arrest reports, which caused the Tribune to ask the police questions about what it takes to police the town’s local Walmart.

For those who don’t know the Walmart story, the company is an American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, states their Wikipedia page.

“The company was founded by Sam Walton in 1962 and incorporated on October 31st, 1969. It also owns and operates Sam’s Club retail warehouses. As of July 31st, 2019, Walmart has 11,389 stores and clubs in 27 countries, operating under 55 different names.

“Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue, with $514.405 billion, according to the Fortune Global 500 list in 2019. It is also the largest private employer in the world, with 2.2 million employees. It is a publicly-traded family-owned business.” How much of their revenue are profits was unlisted and a Business article published in August of 2017 didn’t reveal that number, but did say, “Walmart is making less money today than in years past. In fact, operating income has decreased for two consecutive years and earnings last year were $13.6 billion, down from $16.2 billion in 2015. Return on investment, a key measure of operating efficiency, also slipped to 15.2% in fiscal 2017 from 15.5% the prior year.”

Calls by the numbers

In the last 12 months, the police have run 538 calls at the big box store, including two bomb threats for which both are still open cases. Asked if any other business requires as much of the department’s resources as the Walmart location, Davis said no.

Asked how many incident reports have been filed for 25 North Ridge Commons (Walmart) over the last 12 months, Davis said 175 (158 Incident Reports & 17 Accident Reports).

Asked how many arrests have been made at 25 North Ridge Commons (Walmart) over the last 12 months, the department said 38. According to recent weekly arrest reports, five of the 38 arrests have come in the previous five weeks from reports from August 16th to September 15th. Davis said the department’s record shows Walmart made up 15% of the total arrests over the last year.

The Tribune wanted to ask Walmart some questions in the interest of fairness. Concerned that the local Walmart would not be able or allowed to answer them on this matter, we sent our questions off to corporate headquarters on October 3rd and were immediately sent an automated reply that said, “We’ve received your inquiry and are working to fulfill your request. We strive to return media calls within one business day.” We have not heard from them since.

Here are the questions we sent to them:

  • To what do you attribute the police call volume at this location?
  • Do other Walmarts require as much of the local policing agent’s resources?
  • What would you tell readers the benefits of having a Walmart in their community are?
  • Anything else you might want our readers to know about this matter?

If we do receive a reply, we will publish it in an upcoming issue.

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Clint Parker

Publisher & Editor Weaverville Tribune

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