Dedham Police Chief Michael d'Entremont and selectmen assailed Best Buy's handling of Black Friday for a lack of personnel on site and the store's inability to control a large crowd anticipating blockbuster deals.
"That was the one problem spot for us," the chief said at a selectmen meeting Thursday.
D'Entremont described three instances where police resources were called to the scene. The first at 8:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving night for a crowd disturbance, and found no store personnel on scene. The second just a half-hour later for a report of illegal drug use, and a third time at around 12:35 a.m. for another crowd disturbance that brought four cruisers and a police supervisor to assist.
"The store personnel did not do a good job managing the line," d'Entremont told selectmen. "They didn't adopt our recommendation to have steel crowd-control barriers."
Best Buy did hire two detail officers from the Norfolk County Sheriff's Office for the event as recommended, d'Entremont said.
Black Friday was the first major event that the town allowed stores to open early after Town Meeting passed a bylaw in May that allowed for special event early openings at retail stores.
Stores must receive permission and abide by police recommendations as part of the new bylaw. The fine for opening early without clearing the hurdles is $50, a figure selectmen signaled they'd look to increase at May's Annual Town Meeting.
"I didn't like what I did see [at Best Buy]," selectman Carmen Dello Iacono said. "I'll think long and hard before I vote for anything like that again."
Dello Iacono floated the idea to foot the business with the bill to send officers to a similar event in the future if they don't follow certain police recommendations.
"If they don't follow through with procedures - for example, the steel barriers at Best Buy, putting people in harm's way - then they have to absorb the cost of the police showing up," Dello Iacono said. "Maybe they'll understand then that this is more serious."
Later in the meeting, Toys R Us received an unanimous vote to open for 24 hours beginning Tuesday at 6 a.m. through Saturday at 10 p.m. using the same bylaw.