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Tampa council member requests that police look into Walmart calls following Times investigation

Tampa council member Frank Reddick requested Thursday that police officials appear with a report at the next city council meeting on June 2 with information on how many calls the city’s Walmarts received in the past year.

He also wants to know the nature of the police calls, as well as how many arrests resulted from those incidents.

Reddick’s request comes days after a Tampa Bay Times investigation found that local Walmarts accounted for nearly 16,800 police calls in just one year. That's two calls an hour, every hour of every day.

Many of the calls were for shoplifting and other thefts, but thousands more were for general disorder, like disruptive teens, that didn’t rise to a level of a crime. The responses to Walmart sapped hours of police time that several law enforcement officials told the Times could have been better spent patrolling neighborhoods and preventing other crimes. Other businesses, including Target, accounted for far fewer police calls than Walmart.

In a Thursday story about local officials’ responses to the investigation, Reddick told a Times reporter that the volume of calls was “ridiculous.”

"Basically, what they're doing is taking advantage of law enforcement in order for them to save money,” he said.

Walmart issued a statement Wednesday, saying that they would begin meeting with Tampa Bay officials within the next few weeks to address their concerns.

"We are confident in the work done so far. But we know we can do better, and we will,” said spokeswoman Deisha Barnett.

A Pinellas Park police cruiser rolls past the entrance of a Walmart supercenter in February.

Boyzell Hosey/Tampa Bay Times

A Pinellas Park police cruiser rolls past the entrance of a Walmart supercenter in February.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 19, 2016 6:45pm]


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