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Starbucks’ latest closure over safety concerns leaves Indiana community shocked

An Indianapolis, Indiana, Starbucks location in the city’s downtown area is the latest to close due to public safety concerns, setting off confusion among some business owners and community members who say they have not seen crime concerns. 

“We were not made aware of any type of safety concerns,” Commander Phil Burton with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s Downtown District told Fox 59.

“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.”

The location at Monument Circle will close as of Oct. 28, according to local reports. A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed the closure to Fox 59, explaining the company’s “first priority is to make sure our partners are safe at work.”

“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,” the spokesperson 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.”

“Yes, downtown is very safe,” Burton told WRTV. “Downtown crime accounts for only about 5% of all the total crime throughout the city of Indianapolis.”Business owners who operate near the Starbucks location expressed shock over the closure, saying they don’t have concerns over crime.”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,” Kim Nething, the owner of candy and soda shop Rocket Fizz, told the outlet.

Burton called the closure “unfortunate” and lamented that the chain did not speak with police about any concerns before a decision to close was made.

One call has been made to police from Starbucks in all of 2022, according to Fox 59, for a report of theft and battery of an employee. The suspect was arrested in the case. 

The manager of nearby soup shop, Soupremacy, echoed Nething that she, too, does not have safety concerns for her 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,” Chrystal Chadwick said. “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.  

Republican members of the city council, however, sounded the alarm after the announcement, calling on city leaders to address crime issues before they potentially spiral. 

“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,” Brian Mowery, a member of the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council, wrote in a statement on behalf of himself and four other Republican council members, according to local outlet WISH.

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