IN community stunned over Starbucks closure for safety concerns police say they’re not ‘aware of’

After a string of closures earlier this year, safety concerns have continued to plague the operation of Starbucks as the coffee chain announced the shutdown of an Indianapolis location, leaving some not “aware of any type of safety concerns” stunned.

(Video: Fox 59)

Friday, the retailer announced that the Monument Circle location in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana would be shuttered for good come October 28. Citing safety concerns, a spokesperson for the Seattle-based company said, “Our first priority is to make sure our partners are safe at work. We will continue to work to make sure that partners can focus on crafting exquisite beverages and creating connections in a safe, warm, and welcoming environment.”

The spokesperson had also expressed, “We routinely review the partner and customer experience in our stores to see if the store is thriving, partners (employees) are feeling supported, and that we are meeting customer needs. Our local leaders are, and have always been, empowered to use the many resources at their disposal to modify store operations and create the best experience for our communities. But when necessary, we will make the decision to close a store.”

However, Fox 59 spoke with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Commander Phil Burton of the Downtown District who reported surprise upon learning of the closure.

“We were not made aware of any type of safety concerns,” he told the outlet. “We’re doing everything that we can to ensure the safety of those that actually live, work, and visit downtown, so it really comes as an unfortunate incident, Starbucks not reaching out to myself as the commander, let alone my community relations sergeant or any officer for that matter.”

“Yes, downtown is very safe,” Burton said. “Downtown crime accounts for only about five percent of all the total crime throughout the city of Indianapolis.”

The outlet spoke with representatives of other Monument Circle establishments like Rocket Fizz candy and soda shop owner Kim Nething whose business has operated there for 10 years. Of her relationship with IMPD she said, “I have police come in, not only as customers, but they come in every morning every day just to say hi and see how we’re doing. For me, I don’t have concerns with my safety or my staff’s safety because we do have protocols in place.”

Soupremacy manager Chrystal Chadwick expressed a similar point of view and told Fox 59, “I don’t feel unsafe. I believe that you know, we do have a lot of homeless down here, but they pretty much stay to their selves. We don’t have a lot of people coming in asking to use the restroom. If they do, they buy something; I let them use the restroom.”

“I personally just came off the streets myself not long ago,” she added, “so I know what it feels like to be out there.”

The shutdown of the Monument Circle location follows the closure of a downtown New Orleans shop Starbucks spokesperson Sam Jeffries attributed to challenges in the community that included, “challenges to personal safety and security, racism, a growing mental health crisis, and issues magnified by COVID.”

It also followed the closure of 16 other locations including in Los Angeles and Seattle by the end of July attributed to crime and homelessness. Representatives for Indianapolis argued that the downtown area was the “safest district in Marion County,” but Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council member Brian Mowery said otherwise to WISH.

In a statement representing himself and four Republican council members, Mowery wrote, “For years now, we have been saying that this city needs to get serious about public safety, and now businesses are closing on Monument Circle because we cannot keep it safe. It is time for the prosecutor, mayor, and council to come together to try to fix this problem before it gets worse. We cannot wait to act.”

Employees of the closing location will be granted the opportunity to transfer to another location if they wish to remain with the company.

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