Mesa’s most problematic convenience stores will face new regulations as police look to crack down on stores where beer runs and other crime are common.
The rules have triggered opposition from some operators who fear the cost of security measures could ruin them financially, especially after business saw revenue plummet 30-60 percent in the economic downtown.
The concerns caused police to ease some proposed requirements and to let stores with a good track record avoid some costly investments. Mesa police Chief Frank Milstead cautioned against relaxing any other planned rules after making accommodations for the owners.
“If you water this thing down much more, it’s not going to have much value,” Milstead said.
Mesa has been concerned about convenience stores because the roughly 100 shops accounted for 8,840 calls in 2009 — about 2.8 percent of all calls in the city. The top 10 stores had 46 percent of those calls, which police consider excessive.
Milstead said tighter rules are a top priority because the police department is losing 105 positions, which accounts for 12 percent of its staff.
Mesa’s Public Safety Committee considered the rules Monday and agreed to let stores seek an exemption if they show an economic hardship but also don’t have many police calls.
Those shops could develop a safety plan with police to accomplish the safety goals through other methods.
Police would develop other kinds of safety plans for stores that don’t comply. Mesa could fine stores up to $500 for not complying.
The rules involve having security cameras and storing the images for up to 30 days. The regulations also call for alarms, drop safes, safety training programs and better store visibility.
Most store operators find the new approach “palatable,” Milstead said.
Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh said the rules can cut shoplifting losses and reduce insurance costs.
“It should help their bottom line,” said Kavanaugh, also chairman of the safety committee.
Mesa’s city council will likely consider the regulations in the coming months. Stores would have several months to meet the new standards, but the city has not determined the length of time yet.