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Operation Safe Shopper underway
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

As holiday shoppers  hit the stores last week, the Mt. Juliet Police Department prepared to keep those people safe with Operation Safe Shopper. The initiative, which began in 2010, is geared to deterring crime in major shopping areas in Mt. Juliet with a major increase in police presence.

Starting Black Friday, shoppers saw more men and women in blue on patrol. The Operation Safe Shopper initiative was created to help deter crime, increase response times, and alleviate traffic congestion during the busy holiday shopping season. With Operation Safe Shopper, just about every member of the police force participates in the initiative. Members of the department will be patrolling in marked and undercover vehicles, on foot, and on bicycles to raise law enforcement visibility and promptly respond to calls for service in the shopping centers as well as surrounding areas. Operation Safe Shopper will run through Dec. 31. 

“This is our third year with the Operation Safe Shopper initiative, and we have not had a single violent crime or any major theft in the Mt. Juliet shopping areas while this initiative has been in place,” stated Mt. Juliet Police Chief Andy Garrett.

Dep. Police Chief James Hambrick, further stated, “Mt. Juliet is one of the safest shopping destinations in Middle Tennessee. We want to ensure visitors have a positive experience while visiting our city.”

In addition, the City of Mt. Juliet has made steps to ease traffic congestion around the Interstate 40 shopping hub. The timing of the traffic light sequencing has been adjusted for all intersections near Providence MarketPlace and Paddock shopping centers. 

Police offer the following holiday shopping safety tips: 

Shopper Safety Tips:

Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times. 

Park in well-lighted spaces, lock car doors, and place packages out of sight in the trunk or under seats. 

Do not carry large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card if possible. 

Carry purses close to the body, not dangling by the straps. 

Put wallets in an inside coat or front pants pocket. 

Supervise children at all times. Teach children to go to a police officer or security guard if they get lost or separated. 

Take a holiday inventory. The holidays are a good time to take photos or videos of items in your home.

Parking Lot Safety Tips:

Always be aware of your surroundings.

If shopping at night, park in well lit areas.

Never leave your vehicle unlocked.

When walking to your vehicle, look prepared by having your keys in your hand, your purse and other packages close to you, and always be aware of what is around you.

Never leave holiday packages or other valuable items visible inside your vehicle.

If possible, shop with other and walk in groups. It is safer to have another person with you.

If you see suspicious people or activity, go back into the store or to a populated area and contact the police immediately.

Because traffic also increases around the shopping centers during the holidays, police are also advising shoppers to take heed of the following driving tips: 

Don’t block intersections. Blocking intersections causes frustrating and unsafe back-ups; that’s why it’s against the law. When the traffic signal turns yellow, avoid trying to beat the upcoming red light and pulling into and blocking busy intersections. Instead, drop back and wait for the next green light. When traffic lights are green, make sure there is adequate room to completely cross the intersection. 

Don’t run red lights. Running a red light can have deadly consequences. As a result, Mt. Juliet has 7 red-light cameras designed to deter red-light offenders. Red-light citations carry a $50 fine with an additional penalty if the fine is not paid within a specified period. Violators who run a red light and are cited by a police officer can face a higher fine as well as insurance points.

Contact the Mt. Juliet Police Department in case of any accidents. If the accident is minor without injury, motorists should move their vehicles out of the travel lane and into a parking lot or onto the shoulder and call Mt. Juliet Police at (615) 754-2550. For accidents involving injuries, motorists should call 911. 

Watch for pedestrians. Maintain a safe speed in parking lots and be on the lookout for shoppers exiting vehicles and walking to stores. 

At stop signs, come to a complete stop behind the white stop lines and not in the crosswalk. Especially when turning right on red, remember that a full stop behind the stop bar is necessary to give time to look both ways before proceeding. Look not only for cars but also for pedestrians and cyclists. 

Always use a turn signal to prevent accidents. A turn signal alerts motorists of your intended action and helps prevent rear-end crashes, which is why it’s the law. 

Be patient. There will be a record number of motorists and pedestrians, so a little holiday cheer will go a long way for safety. 

For everyone’s safety, motorists can expect strict enforcement of these and other traffic laws as the Mt. Juliet Police Department works around the clock to make sure everyone has safe and happy holidays.