Residents may have noticed two parking spots at Walmart, 961 E. Columbus Ave., have a new sign designating them for law enforcement.
The sign reads, "Reserved Parking for our law enforcement partners," and has a blue light flashing above the sign.
Casey Staheli, senior manager of National Media Relations at Walmart, said Walmart started placing the signs at stores in early September and all stores should have designated spots by the end of January.
"As a courtesy to law enforcement, we are designating a reserved parking space at all of our Walmart U.S. stores,” Staheli said. “We invite them to use this space, whether they are on or off duty as they shop with us. This is just one way we’re looking to strengthen our relationship with police, provide a greater sense of security at our stores, and appreciate the work they do serving our communities across the country.”
Corry Police Chief Rich Shopene said that officers in the Corry Police Department were informed by Walmart management the designated spaces were being placed in Corry Walmart parking lot.
Shopene said on Dec. 23, while he was ringing the bell for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign, the flashing blue light drew his attention to the new spaces.
The parking designation has made responding to incidents at Walmart easier, according to Shopene.
"Without it, to find a parking space close is quite difficult at times," Shopene said. "That way when we go up there for any type of criminal investigation, we have a place near the store that we can park."
In instances of having to place someone into custody and walk them back to a police cruiser, proximity to the front of the store is useful, Shopene said.
Before this, police have been known to pull into a fire lane outside the front doors of the store and park on the sidewalk.
"This keeps us out of the fire lane and gives us a spot close," Shopene said.
If a customer accidentally parks in the law enforcement designated spot, there are no laws being broken, but such an instance could cost police officers valuable time when trying to respond to an incident, Shopene said.
"Out of respect for law enforcement, keep that space open so we can get out there as quickly as possible and do our job," Shopene said.