A Maryland sheriff criticized Walmart for what he described as its lack of armed security following several incidents involving guns in recent weeks at Walmart locations, including an armed robbery that occurred last week at a local store.
On Friday morning, a man walked up to a register at a Walmart in Sykesville, Maryland, and “repeatedly” displayed a handgun while demanding money, according to a statement from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. The Walmart employee complied, and the man fled the area, authorities said.
Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees blasted the company’s corporate security policies, telling the Carroll County Times on Friday that it “breeds this type of activity.”
DeWees described the company as being “reactive” rather than “proactive,” saying that would-be criminals are aware that they will encounter little to no security when conducting illegal activity in the store.
“They all but wait for these things to happen before they put measures into place,” DeWees said of Walmart.
The Maryland incident came less than a week after a gunman killed 22 people and injured dozens more at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, three days after two men who were arguing pulled guns on each other at a Walmart in Baton Rouge and one day after a man in Springfield, Missouri, walked into a Walmart armed with a rifle and wearing body armor.
In addition, on July 30, two Walmart employees in Southaven, Mississippi, were shot dead by a coworker.
DeWees said Walmart needs to start employing armed security to prevent crimes from occurring at the store, adding that his deputies patrol the local Walmart more frequently.
“Find me a Walmart that isn’t a burden on law enforcement resources and I will kiss your a–,” he told the Carroll County Times. “Their corporate policies are pitiful when it comes to securing their stores and protecting their employees and the customers that are there.”
Walmart Director of National Media Relations LeMia Jenkins told ABC News in a statement that the corporation values its relationship with the sheriff’s office and understands that the sheriff “has concerns.”
“Anytime a member of law enforcement raises concerns, we want to have dialogue with them to better understand them and how we can work together,” Jenkins said, adding that Walmart representatives plan on meeting with DeWees.
Walmart spokesman Casey Staheli told the Carroll County Times that the company recognizes the security issues “at the highest levels of the company” and is “investing in people, programs and technology to support our stores.”
The company doesn’t just want to ‘detect” crime but “deter” it as well, Staheli told the local newspaper.