The retailer Target has a large and growing role as a partner to law enforcement agencies, applying state-of-the-art technology used in its 1,400 stores, the Washington Post reports. Besides running a forensics lab in Minneapolis, Target has helped coordinate national undercover investigations and worked with customs agencies on ways to make sure imported cargo is coming from reputable sources or is intact. It has contributed money for prosecutors to combat repeat criminals, provided police with remote-controlled video surveillance systems, and linked police and business radio systems to beef up neighborhood foot patrols in several major cities. It has given management training to FBI and police leaders, and linked city, county and state databases to keep track of repeat offenders.
The efforts are part of a trend in corporate donations directed at solving societal problems. Target has replaced the concept of “assets protection” in its stores with crime prevention in the community. A program called “Target and Blue” helps define its approach partnerships with law enforcement. Chief executive Robert Ulrich made cooperating with law enforcement a priority in the mid-1990s, when crime rates skyrocketed and his hometown of Minneapolis was nicknamed “Murderopolis.” “The turning point occurred for me when I read about a repeat offender walking out of the courtroom because the judge didn’t know he had a criminal record in a different part of the state,” he said. “He raped a woman the next day.” Ulrich slapped the table. He wanted to know how the man got out of jail so fast.