Walmart designates parking space for law enforcement

Matthew Lane • Jan 12, 2020 at 9:00 PM

KINGSPORT – The Walmart stores in the Model City now have a dedicated parking space for law enforcement officers — a recent addition that’s eventually coming to all Walmart locations across the country.

The dedicated parking space can be found near the front of the store, and is designated with a sign and a blue light. It’s something local law enforcement appreciates, given how frequent they have to response to calls at these locations.

“At several large stores we do have issues with shoplifting and that requires several responses a week,” said Kingsport Police Chief David Quillin. “It certainly makes it easier and a little more convenient to have a designated place for police parking.”

The Kingsport Police Department responded to more than 1,500 calls for service at the two Walmart supercenter locations and the Walmart Neighborhood Market in 2019. Here’s a breakdown of those calls:

— Walmart on Fort Henry Drive – 593 calls (120 for shoplifting).

— Walmart on West Stone Drive – 672 calls (171 for shoplifting).

— The neighborhood market on Lynn Garden Drive – 474 calls (36 for shoplifting).

"As a courtesy to law enforcement, we are designating a reserved parking space at all of our Walmart U.S. stores,” said Casey Staheli, senior manager of National Media Relations at Walmart. “We invite them to use this space, whether they are on or off duty as they shop with us. This is just one way we’re looking to strengthen our relationship with police, provide a greater sense of security at our stores, and appreciate the work they do serving our communities across the country.”

The new designated parking spaces have not gone unnoticed among some members of the public, especially a few folks who frequent Walmart on a regular basis.

Jessica Burke of Gate City comes to the Walmart Neighborhood Market fairly often and said she first noticed the parking space a few weeks ago.

“I think it’s a good idea and I think all of the stores should have them,” Burke said. “I feel safer coming here knowing they’re there. There’s a lot of sketchy stuff going on here, so I think it’s a good idea.”

Oscar and Brandy Boozer of Kingsport also frequent the neighborhood market and feel safer seeing the little blue light on top of the parking space sign.

“I think it’s something the cops need, having their own parking space next to the store. I’ve come by at 5 a.m. on the way to work and I feel safer getting out (of my truck),” Oscar said. Brandy chimed in with a similar thought.

“It does (make me feel safer) because I usually have three or four kids with me,” Brandy said. “It’s nice to know since there’s sometimes a few shady looking people in the parking lot at times.”