As is true with so many of today’s greatest challenges, education is the key to finding solutions. The willingness to expand our base of knowledge and way of thinking, even in areas where we may be considered expert, can lead to exponential growth and increased productivity. This can be especially true for our law enforcement community, where safety and protection are of paramount importance.
That type of learning took on a much different look and feel on March 2nd and 3rd in Broward County, Florida as the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail (CLEAR), LP Magazine, the Loss Prevention Foundation, and organized retail crime investigators from several large retail companies came together to offer deputies from the Broward County Sheriff’s Department a retailer’s perspective on the organized retail crime pandemic.
This was the first stop in a campaign to educate law enforcement across the country on organized retail crime (ORC), with subject-matter experts brought in to discuss ORC on a national scale. The training was the first of its kind and designed to introduce ORC to patrol officers, field training officers, criminal analysts and detectives.
The interactive training modules covered the severity levels of ORC and how police agencies can interact with retailers on retail theft calls, traffic stops, collateral cases and intelligence gathering. Bill Corfield and Justin Strohauern from Target, Tyson Roberts of The Home Depot, and Nathan Bandaries from Safeway provided instruction on “ORC Key Indicators” and how retailers collaborate in support of investigations and product recoveries. The attendees also received training from the Florida State Department of Agriculture on how pawn shops have evolved into large scale ecommerce fencing operations. Sessions were engaging and interactive, with four different presentations held to effectively support as many of the county deputies as possible.
“The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has a long and successful history in the resolution of significant ORC cases,” said CLEAR Vice President Sergeant Rich Rossman. “I am thrilled that my agency was selected to kick off this national campaign to educate law enforcement across the country.” 125 representatives from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office attended training blocks across two full days.
National and international events have led to a devastating increase in organized retail crime over the past several years, with south Florida serving as one of the epicenters for ORC activity. Criminal actors are taking advantage of tools, technology, and slow-moving legislators at a zealous pace, impacting our communities in ways above and beyond what most people realize. Amazingly, tens of billions of dollars in retail losses is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the influence of organized retail crime. Safety concerns, lost tax revenues, money laundering, international crimes, and a host of “Gateway” crimes from drug trafficking to human trafficking are all directly and indirectly fed by these events. And as retailers and our law enforcement partners fight to keep up, we rely on each other to find the solutions we need.
To be effective partners, it is critical to understand the importance of learning from each other. This can be something as involved as learning the intricacies of a different perspective, or as simple as understanding the availability of a helping hand. There were numerous examples on both sides of the partnership that were beyond a willingness to listen and moved towards an eagerness to learn.
This initiative is being spearheaded by the CLEAR National ORC Committee and Chairman Rory Stollard from The Home Depot. More of these events are needed across the country to fuel the growth and development of our public/private partnerships and the training initiatives necessary to move the ORC needle in our favor. Look for additional training sessions in the coming months as the campaign moves to several midwestern and western states that have requested this live specialized training.
Online ORC Courses for Law Enforcement
In addition to the live training events, CLEAR is partnering with RILA, LPM Media Group, and the Loss Prevention Foundation to create web-based certificate courses on organized retail crime intended for the law enforcement community. The first course will focus on providing information to benefit the patrol officer, while the advanced course will offer more detailed content appropriate for the law enforcement detective. These courses are currently being developed through the collaborative efforts of these industry partners and ORC subject-matter experts to provide greater awareness and enhanced training for the law enforcement community.
If any agency or retailer is interested in participating in future training events or would like to learn more about how these training programs can reach your community, please contact Ben Dugan at Brendan.email@example.com, the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail (CLEAR), or The Loss Prevention Foundation.