Immediately following the conclusion of their ninth annual training conference in Myrtle Beach last year, the board of directors for the national Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail (CLEAR) began the tremendous task to determine how best to celebrate and mark ten years of “Success through Partnership.”
CLEAR was facing the ten-year mark with a new set of leaders. Ben Dugan from CVS Health was elected president. Jason Davies, now the director of ORC with Macy’s, replaced Dugan as vice president alongside Sergeant Rich Rossman of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Gregg Oxfeld from Securitas joined the team to bring new strategies as the director of vendor relations.
“The key to CLEAR’s success has always been our ability to stay relevant and evolve with new technologies and strategies to combat more sophisticated trends in retail crime,” said Dugan. “I can think of no better way to celebrate ten years then for us to facilitate the elevation of the national discussion around retail crime in America. Specifically, to identify the top challenges facing both the retailers and law enforcement agencies today.”
Dugan stated, “The only way to connect to both the retail and law enforcement arenas is to be actively involved in them.” So the CLEAR board set out on an amazing journey to hear from the top experts in the fight against retail crime at all levels. They conducted meetings and interviews with loss prevention executives and the commanders from the best law enforcement agencies in the country. They asked these leaders, “If we put the top property crime detectives from agencies across the country together with corporate investigators from some of the nation’s largest retailers, what would they like to discuss? What should we be talking about?” The results were amazing.
Although many of the leaders they spoke to had different perspectives about how to approach retail crime, they all agreed that the top three priorities should be:
- Preventing Violent Crime,
- Partnerships in Major Crime Investigations and
- Community Service.
Dugan said he was “fascinated with the consistency of the responses despite significant differences in each agency’s individual approach and dedication of resources to address major retail crime.” The responses were exactly what CLEAR was hoping for. “Diversity of ideas is what will fuel and elevate our discussions,” remarked Dugan. “CLEAR has always promoted an atmosphere of inclusivity and we want to hear from everybody.”
This experiment gave CLEAR its mandate. Based on what the industry was saying, they would dedicate one full day of the three-day conference agenda to each of the challenges identified. Day one would be dedicated to investigating and preventing violent crime. The day two sessions would all be focused on major retail crime investigations. And the last day would be dedicated to connecting to the communities where police officers serve and retailers do business.
CLEAR then went out and recruited a host of dynamic speakers from the worlds of law enforcement, government, and business to lead the discussions at the 10th Annual Conference scheduled for October 28–31, 2019, at the beautiful Bahia Resort in San Diego, California.
Some of the sessions CLEAR is excited to present include:
- “Growing Trends in Retail Armed Robberies” by the Texas Department of Public Safety
- “Developing New ORC Legislation” by California Assemblyman Jim Cooper and Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.
- “The Importance of Public and Private Partnerships in Times of Crisis” by Eriana Perrin from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
CLEAR is also looking forward to several ground-breaking sessions never before presented. One of which is to include Sergeant Bryan Barlow of the Chicago Police Department on “Interviewing Victims of Traumatic Events.” Dugan observed, “Often times as investigators, we immediately focus on gathering the evidence we need to resolve a violent crime and forget that our employees or customers had just been victimized as well.” Sergeant Barlow will be discussing how best to conduct these situational interviews. Dugan added that the cost of counseling services that businesses provide employees that were traumatized far outweighs the cost of the robbery. That is why this session is so important. “Its good business and more importantly, it is the right thing to do by our employees.”
Another innovative session will be “Lessons from an Active Shooter Event” by Cathy Langley, VP of loss prevention for Rite Aid. She will discuss the event that occurred at their distribution center in Maryland in 2016. At the 2018 CLEAR Conference, the Orlando Police Department captivated the attendees with their reaction to the Pulse Nightclub Shooting, but no one has ever presented these events from the perspective of the affected business and the time it needs to heal.
Also new this year is the CLEAR Leadership Series with Captain Kate Adams from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office presenting “Women in Leadership.” This session is for women and their supervisors in law enforcement and business.
Vendors and Sponsors
CLEAR has always placed a premium on their relationship with its vendors and sponsors. Unlike other organizations, CLEAR has solution providers on their board and actively engages them in discussions about opportunities to support field investigations and prevention efforts. Gregg Oxfeld has put together sponsorship and vendor opportunities at every level. “We have received a tremendous response from the loss prevention community since announcing our agenda,” remarked Oxfeld. “We have several opportunities for additional vendors that want to be a part of this exciting event.”
The registration for the conference is purposely priced so that agencies and retailers can afford to send investigators that would not normally not get a chance to attend a national conference. “The atmosphere at a CLEAR conference is something special,” remarked Dugan. “There is a brotherhood among investigators on the front lines in the fight against of retail crime. It’s unlike any other conference.”