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Drug death, woman beaten, machete and naked men - all at same store
ARLINGTON — A naked man in a back room, a man with a machete in the women’s restroom and a drug-related death.
Those are all things Tracey Goddard has seen while working at the Smokey Point Safeway the past few months.
“I’ve personally observed drug deals many times in the parking lot in broad daylight,” Goddard said. “I was told by a man I am confident is one of the drug dealers that if the store manager does not leave them alone outside, the manager is going to find himself hurt.”
Goddard addressed the Arlington City Council March 7 to let them know that reported drops in crime have not extended to her area.
Of the four Safeway employees in attendance, Goddard read from a prepared statement, asserting that the city had directed that her store and the Smokey Point Walmart not be included in the city’s recently released set of crime statistics. She claimed that allegation was confirmed “by more than one city employee.”
However, Mayor Barb Tolbert issued a statement March 10 explaining that the recently reported crime statistics were drawn from the regional SNOPAC 911 system, and that Arlington police use the National Incident-Based Reporting System to collect details about crimes.
“Using the NIBRS system does not allow us to exclude any area of the city or any specific type of crime in the reporting,” Tolbert said.
Back at the council meeting, Goddard described her Safeway as “a war zone for those of us who work and shop there,” regardless of the hour of day or night.
She presented a list of incidents she’s personally witnessed in the last few months alone, from a drug-related death, which the night manager responded to by attempting CPR, to two instances of unconscious women found lying in parking spaces before noon, to which she responded by calling 911.
“I’ve seen one woman viciously beat up in the parking lot,” Goddard said. “I’ve witnessed cars, parked and running, with people passed out in them, or slumped over the steering wheel, or passed out in the grass area.”
The week prior, a naked man was found in the store’s back room at 4 a.m., “high” and drinking beer. Another man, with no pants, made barking noises in the parking lot at 7 a.m.
She recalled the previous Thursday, when police were called to evict a man who was refusing to leave the women’s restroom.
“He had a machete hanging on his waist and no shoes on,” Goddard said. “Most likely, he was shooting up in his feet in our restroom.”
The Saturday before the meeting, a used needle wrapped in bloody paper towels was found in an empty cooler inside the store by the produce department.
“Fortunately, it was not hidden, so no one pricked themselves,” Goddard said, before addressing Tolbert directly.
“You have a responsibility to do something about this. You shouldn’t get to pick and choose what part of the city you want to deal with. Purposefully leaving out a high crime area in a crime study to make your numbers look good is wrong and a crime in itself,” Goddard said.
Tolbert said the crime statistics provided in February are accurate, but noted that Smokey Point tends to be more susceptible to certain types of criminal activity because it’s right on the I-5 corridor. Arlington police have taken steps to be more visible in Smokey Point at all hours. Tolbert noted that officers often will position themselves in the Safeway parking lot to provide added security.
“The management of the Smokey Point Safeway have been invited to all of the Smokey Point business watch meetings, and have chosen not to attend or participate,” Tolbert said. “A number of stores in the Smokey Point area have implemented many of these tools with a certain degree of success, including blanket trespass orders, private security in their stores and parking lots, and stationing staff at the exits to the stores to check receipts and items purchased.”
After the March 7 council meeting, Arlington Public Safety Director Bruce Stedman and Deputy Police Chief Jonathan Ventura met with the Smokey Point Safeway employees who attended.
“We discovered during this conversation that many of the incidents shared with the mayor and City Council had not been called in to 911,” Tolbert said. “[We] extended an offer to help their employees with training and advice on ways they can make their store and parking lot safer. We sincerely hope they will participate to become part of the campaign to work together to reduce crime.”