HPD’s most visited site in 2012? WalmartDuring 2012, the most frequently visited place for officers at the Hastings Police Department was Walmart.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
During 2012, the most frequently visited place for officers at the Hastings Police Department was Walmart.
According to numbers released by the department recently, Hastings officers responded to Walmart a total of 246 times in 2012.
“One of the reasons why Walmart has that high of a number is because it is a 24-hour location,” Hastings Chief of Police Paul Schnell said. “It’s a high volume store, too. Based on those factors, it’s not unusual or uncommon to have high numbers of calls for service.”
Most of the calls for police stem from thefts. Some have been thefts of items under $10. Others have totaled into the thousands of dollars. Those are often times perpetuated by organized crime rings that target items behind locked cases. Expensive televisions and shopping carts full of baby formula (sold online by the thieves) have also been stolen.
Walmart has also been proactive on the corporate side of things, putting forth “an aggressive” loss prevention team, Schnell said.
The facility’s proximity to a well traveled highway also makes the location a target, Schnell said.
“Its location is very close to one of the city’s key access and egress points,” he said.
At least a few times in 2012, thieves fled from the parking lot, took Highway 55 out of Hastings and were caught either on 55 or later on Highway 52, proving that access point isn’t exactly a safe route out of town for thieves.
The second most frequented location in Hastings was the detox facility and halfway house in the 1200 block of 18th Street East. Officers were there 237 times.
“There’s a high volume of people there, not at their own volition in most cases,” Schnell said. “Based on that, we get a fairly significant number of calls.”
Hastings doesn’t place people at that center, but many times officers are called after people are placed there by other counties. There were thefts, assaults, unruly residents and damage to property reported in 2012.
The Minnesota Veterans Home in Hastings, located across the street, had 140 incidents in 2012 and was the third most visited address in Hastings.
The numbers on the list aren’t perfect – they only involve initial calls for service, and not follow-up calls. In addition, the numbers include officers who may simply be checking in at Walmart for a crime suppression detail.
Such details are held in Hastings, especially around the holidays.
“We want to be proactive in the places where there are higher calls,” Schnell said. “You can start to see that where there are high levels of calls, there should be a correspondingly high level of proactive activity. We know that policing areas where we’ve had more problems can have an impact on preventing further problems.”
The fifth-most visited location appears as the Hastings Middle School, but Schnell suspects that the school resource officer there is a big reason why it appears so high on the list. Whenever that officer generates a call and he’s there, the middle school will appear on the list. There are other times when officers are present at the start of school and the end of school. They will check in or check out using that location, so it’s rather high on the list.
Still, the list is valuable to Schnell, he said.
“Strategically, we’re trying to be more refined in terms of our focus,” he said. “Responsive policing – just get there quickly when a call comes in – is important,” he said. “When push comes to shove, though, the research is saying that what is going to make a difference is focusing more attention on the people, places and problems that are affecting the community.”
The Hastings bridge is sixth on the list, and it had calls ranging from a Mayfly infestation, car crashes, stalled vehicles and mental health crises in 2012. In addition, there was additional police presence when the main span for the new bridge was floated into place in September.
Calls by address
Veterans Home: 140
Regina Medical Center: 136
Hastings Middle School: 135
Hastings bridge: 127
County courthouse: 123
Augustana Homes: 94
Oak Ridge Assisted Living: 86
Hastings High School: 80
TCF Bank: 66