INDIANAPOLIS — A wave of Starbucks closures nationwide due to safety concerns is hitting Indianapolis.
On Friday, Starbucks confirmed that it is closing one of its downtown Indianapolis locations due to safety concerns. The location on Monument Circle will close effective October 28.
The latest news comes after the Associated Press reports the chain was closing stores across the country because of repeated safety issues, including drug use and other disruptive behaviors that threatened staff.
Starbucks said in July that the closures were a larger part of its effort to respond to staff concerns and make sure stores are safe and welcoming. The news sparked criticism from some workers who said they weren’t consulted or given any options besides closure.
“We think it is not fair that we were not allowed to be a part of this decision about our working conditions, nor for Starbucks to claim they could not provide a safe experience for our workplace,” Mari Cosgrove, an employee at one of the Seattle stores that are closing told the AP.
In its confirmation Friday, a representative with Starbucks says they routinely address stores to ensure a safe and welcoming environment. That had become a challenge at this location.
“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.
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.”Starbucks
The representative says employees impacted by the closure will be given the opportunity to transfer to a nearby location.
Commander Phil Burton with IMPD Downtown District said he was shocked by the news, calling it ‘unfortunate’ and said Starbucks did not communicate to him or his officers their concerns.
“We were not made aware of any type of safety concerns,” said Burton. “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.”
Burton said day, middle, and late shift are conducting extra patrols downtown, not only on Monument Circle, but also throughout the district. He said that includes foot and bike patrols as well as utilizing technology like mobile trailer cameras.
“We have several cameras that link into our Incident Analysis Center, where we have detectives and analysts that are actually sitting there and relay it back to the officers that are on the ground in real time,” Burton explained.
According to IMPD, officers are encouraged to go into businesses and talk with managers on duty or supervisors to see if there are any types of concerns or comments they would like to share. Each day, Burton said a daily patrol plan is created and adjusted based on what they’ve been made aware of.
“Part of police work is being reactive to certain things, but we can be proactive and that’s one of the things we’ve done which works. We’re working closely with our business partners as well as residents,” said Burton.
Kim Nething, who owns Rocket Fizz, which has been in business for 10 years on Monument Circle, said her business maintains a good relationship with IMPD to help keep their staff and guests safe.
“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,” said Nething.
“As far as people and families and their own personal beliefs, everybody’s just gonna have to have their own opinion and make their own decisions,” said Nething, who added she feels safe bringing her own children and grandchildren to the area.
Other nearby business managers, including Chrystal Chadwick at Soupremacy, said they don’t have any concerns over safety of their patrons or staff.
“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,” said Chadwick. “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, so I know what it feels like to be out there,” Chadwick shared.
IMPD said officers aren’t called often to Monument Circle or the specific location.
“Looking at our run load, we do not receive a big run load to Monument Circle, to any of the businesses on Monument Circle,” Burton said.
A search of IMPD’s computer aided dispatch (CAD) from the start of the year shows that IMPD was only called specifically to Starbucks at 55 Monument Circle one time, on August 24, for a report of a theft and battery on an employee, which resulted in an arrest.
IMPD said it has a trespass agreement with different businesses, if they choose to, where they are able to arrest someone for criminal trespassing. IMPD said their officers essentially can act as an agent if they know someone isn’t supposed to be on a business’ grounds and even if the property is closed, issue a warning. If that person comes back, IMPD is able to arrest them for criminal trespassing, Burton said.
“Starbucks and their corporate office refuse to sign that with IMPD, so it kind of hinders us when you talk about private property,” said Burton.
While many said they are not concerned for safety, they expressed that they are going to miss the longtime coffee shop, which has been in its location for decades, and the staff that they support, and do the same for their businesses.
“I am sad. I take candy over to them every single week,” said Nething. “We definitely are supportive with any of our businesses, especially in a main location, it is sad not only for the community, but for the staff, even for the corporation. Regardless of what’s going on, it’s going to be a hit to them. This was a extremely busy, 100 percent of the time, Starbucks location.”
On Friday, a spokesperson with the city of Indianapolis said the following:
“The City continues to work with IMPD and stakeholders to keep Downtown a safe and vibrant place to live, work, and play. Thanks to that collaboration, as well as investment in public safety ambassadors, IMPD cameras, and expanded cleaning capacity, Downtown remains the safest district in Marion County. That has helped influence a 97% occupancy rate for housing units in the Downtown area; $3.8 billion in planned economic development projects; the continued attraction of major conventions annually; and the opening of over 70 retail and restaurant businesses last year alone. On Monday night the City-County Council will vote on Mayor Hogsett’s proposed 2023 budget, which features an unprecedented public safety investment that helps fund 200 additional IMPD officer positions, increases first-year officer pay, and continues to build out robust law enforcement technology infrastructure.”City Spokesperson
Additionally, President and CEO of Downtown Indy, Inc. Taylor Schaffer provided the following statement:
“While today’s announcement is disappointing, data indicates that Downtown continues to be the safest district in Indianapolis, accounting for less than 5% of overall crime. We are committed to ensuring that residents and visitor alike feel safe in our Regional Center. That’s why we are collaborating with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to prioritize investment in public safety initiatives including increased patrols, the instillation of new crime-fighting technologies, and engagement from Downtown Indy, Inc.’s safety ambassadors.
This strategy is showing success — contributing to unprecedented investment in our Downtown — with more than $3.8 billion in planned development and an occupancy rate of nearly 97% in residential properties.
A safe Indianapolis is a priority for all of us, no matter what part of town. Yet, we remain committed to working with our partners to ensure that the Mile Square and all of Downtown continues to be the safest neighborhood in Indianapolis.”Downtown Indy, Inc.