The Georgia Retail Association Loss Prevention Council (GRALPC) and the Georgia Retail Association Organized Crime Alliance (GRAORCA) held their 6th Annual Retail Crime Conference on August 24 in Atlanta. The conference opened with Investigative Reporter Mark Winne from local Channel 2 Action News who challenged us all to think about why we are committed to this industry. After selecting audience members to share their insights, it quickly became obvious that while the answer is personal and depends on each person’s experience, many share a basic feeling connected to “doing the right thing.”
Following Winne, Chief Deputy Milton Beck from Cobb County reminded us all that success is a team effort, and networking and partnerships are key–especially on complex crimes. It’s important to know who to call and when to call them in order to be a force multiplier, get a plan, and handle a situation well.
The team effort conversation continued into the leadership panel, where Beck was joined by Danny McKnight, a retired U.S. Army colonel; Paul Butler, a speaker and trainer with 27 years of law enforcement experience; and John Clark, principal and founder of PCI Services. Each brought their own unique perspectives from their varied backgrounds: military, law enforcement and retail.
Butler emphasized that the role of a leader is to take and develop the next round of leaders; in other words, train people to rise up and develop themselves. From the military perspective, McKnight expanded on that by stressing the importance of learning how to lead from other leaders and being able to earn (not expect) the respect of those you lead. Clark then gave solution provider insight on informal leadership, discussing how his customers rely on his leadership to teach and guide them through their issues.
The afternoon kicked off with an introduction to the gray and black markets with John Clark. The use of contextual commerce and location-specific sellers is driving new opportunities for organized retail crime. These are popular for people looking to unload products obtained through theft in the easiest possible way. Clark also discussed tips and techniques to ensure your safety in performing investigations and using the Dark Web. Key tips included starting with a clean computer, refraining from doing anything personal with a computer you are using on the Dark Web, and using only one computer per investigation. Remember that they are watching you as much as you are watching them!
Speaking of being watched, Brian Hayes of Signet Jewelers provided a case study on the Diamond Diva. He walked us through the case, which
consisted of multiple robberies that spanned across the Southeast and hit multiple jewelers. Brian not only stressed the importance of partnerships across with law enforcement agencies, but also how his partnerships with retailers help provide additional details for a solid investigation.
The final general session reverberated keys of leadership and commitment with Danny McKnight. Best known for his heroism as a convoy commander in Somalia during Black Hawk Down missions, McKnight talked about leadership and commitment and how those don’t apply just in the military but should be applied to any profession. Great leaders have a commitment to their people and stay professionals. It’s important to focus on those you lead, learn from them, and show that you aren’t afraid to get in the trenches with them.
The day closed out with a raffle to support Care for Cops, a $5,000 donation to the GRAORCA Loss Prevention Scholarship, and announcement of LPF Coursework Scholarships.