Eagan police may look into hiring an additional officer because demands at the city's new outlet mall have stressed resources.
Since its opening in mid-August, the Twin Cities Premium Outlet Mall has had 630 calls for service, with about 100 of them for shoplifting, said Police Chief Jim McDonald.
The police department, which is Dakota County's busiest based on the number of service calls, took two officers from a dedicated traffic unit and reassigned them to work the outlet center and the surrounding area.
Seven officers are working around the clock at any given time, McDonald said, which means nearly one third of the department is now managing the retail sector. The challenge now is to ensure that officers can respond to calls in the rest of the city in a timely manner.
"It's a very safe place to go," McDonald said of the mall, located at the intersection of Hwy. 77 and Hwy. 13. "Nothing in the statistics that I have shows that there's been any assault, or any robbery, or any violent crime. What we're seeing is some of the merchants are getting preyed upon by shoplifting. Very organized groups of shoplifters are coming in, and we just can't handle that with one officer."
Of the city's six police beats, the retail district is the busiest — largely for calls regarding traffic stops, alarms, theft and suspicious persons. However, when police broke down calls within one-third of a mile around the redevelopment site, McDonald said there was no sign the mall was attracting crime.
"What that tells me, in raw numbers, is that district is having no affect on that neighborhood," he said. "We're not seeing a lot of crime."
In 2014, Eagan police saw a 7.2 percent decrease in the total number of service calls, stemming from decrease in all beats except the new retail sector.
The Eagan shopping center is now the closest outlet mall to the Twin Cities core, about 16 miles from downtown Minneapolis and 15 miles from downtown St. Paul. It's just 4.3 miles south of the Mall of America, the largest shopping center in the nation.
Its popularity, particularly around the holidays, has led many involved in the venture to call it wild success, said Brent Cory, president and CEO of the Eagan Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Pat Phiefer contributed to this report.