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    Police Work with C-stores for Safety

    Local enforcement in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Omaha, Neb., look for strategies to prevent crime.

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A closed-door meeting between the city's police chief, Chuck Harmon, police administrators, and Sid Shah, of the Asian American Convenience Stores Association (AACSA) was held here this week in efforts to determine safety measures local c-stores stores should install to ward off crime and violence, the Tampa Tribune reported.

    However, following the meeting, Harmon and Shah told the paper there were also some differences of opinion on the measures. The AACSA was concerned over the cost of the suggestions, stating requiring a second employee on all shifts and installing bullet-proof glass cost too much, Shah said, adding such enclosures cost $6,000 to $8,000, and would make interactions with customers less personal.
    Another measure calls for buzzers being used to allow customers into the store, or preventing others from entering. But the AACSA would like them used from 12-5 a.m., while the police want them used form 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., according to the report.

    "The problem here is if a group of kids come in. It's difficult to let one or two persons in but not the rest of them," Shah said.

    There was some agreement on certain measures, including the removal of advertisements in windows, the addition of video surveillance cameras inside stores and night-vision cameras outside, and using safes with time-delayed locks, the report stated.

    Meanwhile, the city's legal department is proposing a city ordinance that would require "mom and pop" convenience stores to follow the same safety guidelines required of corporate stores, such as mandating any store that was robbed to schedule two employees on shift at all times.

    In other security news, the Omaha, Neb. police department is cracking down on convenience store crime, along with some of the retailers, according to area television station KPTM.

    In addition to robberies, c-sores in the area have become local, late night hangouts for large crowds.

    "A lot of times these groups keep growing and tensions flare, and we end up having fights and other violent acts," Michael Pecha with the Omaha Police Department told the station, adding, "Some businesses have been closing earlier in order to avoid these crowd disturbances."

    Other stores also hired off-duty officers to help with security.

    Management at QuikTrip told the station the changes it has made in the past year are working to ensure customers feel safe, according to the report.

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