It was a great day for the Georgia Retail Association Organized Retail Crime Alliance (GRAORCA) Conference in Atlanta—nice and rainy so you wouldn’t miss the heat outside. After attending this conference for the past three years, I can safely say that it gets better each year. With increased attendance, influential speakers, and a growing vendor showcase, the only thing that doesn’t change is the key message—Partnership is key when it comes to fighting Organized Retail Crime.
Chief George Turner of the Atlanta Police Department got the day started by discussing new partnerships and additional changes being made in his department (to include improved technology and additional resources) to keep driving the crime rate in Atlanta to record lows. Vic Reynolds, the Cobb County District Attorney, echoed Chief Turner by stating that no retailer is immune to ORC and working together is the only way that we can make an impact. While the sharing of information between private businesses and public agencies can potentially present a challenge, increased information sharing gives everyone a better and more complete picture, which in turn leads to successful arrests and prosecutions.
Sharing information was no issue for the leadership panel. With leaders representing retail, law enforcement and the vendor community, diverse perspectives were provided on leadership and leading teams. Each offered their own insight and experience while providing the audience with a number of take-aways. I personally came away with a list of books to read thanks to Deputy Chief Darryl Tolleson, who stressed the importance of accelerating your learning and leadership development by reading books authored by those discussing their leadership experience.
Meanwhile Shawn Blankenship, vice president of asset protection at The Home Depot, conveyed the importance of communication as a leader as a means to ensure your team understands the end goal. Communicating your plan allows the team to support the journey and helps with making the right decisions along the way. District Attorney Vic Reynolds agreed with Shawn, adding that it’s important to train your people to learn and understand the right standards, creating the support that helps develop leaders for the future.
With sessions focused on post-ORC actions like “Creating Successful Partnerships for Building Cases” and “Using ORC and RICO Statutes” it was also refreshing to have sessions that discussed prevention of ORC incidents. The Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) was on-hand to help introduce the concept of taking a scientific look at deterrence and best practices for identifying and interviewing a booster once they are in custody.
The day ended with what may have been the most interesting session of the day. The LPRC introduced four of the boosters they work with to serve as a panel moderated by Kyle Grottini. The session allowed attendees to hear “straight from the horse’s mouth” how they select their targets, along with their methods and motivators. There were likely more than a few in the audience that did not like to hear the details and impressions of their stores expressed by the boosters, but the insight and candid responses were informational and prompted an interesting Q&A session at the end.
With such successful past conferences, the 2015 GRAORCA Conference did not disappoint and I look forward to what 2016 has to bring.