This week LP Magazine was at the Rosen Plaza hotel in Orlando, Florida for the 2021 Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail (CLEAR) and the Florida Law Enforcement Property Recovery Unit (FLEPRU) conference. While safety protocols and social distancing were a priority at the November 16-18 event, attendance was at capacity with more than 400 retail ORC task force leaders and law enforcement experts coming together for education, partnerships, and networking in the fight against organized retail crime.
Although organized retail crime is far from a new topic, there is clearly additional emphasis on the subject in 2021 as ORC networks continue to expand their reach in markets across the country. CLEAR and FLEPRU provide a forum for both public and private sector organizations to come together to support the fight against organized retail crime. By creating opportunities for learning and team building, information on the latest tools and technologies, and guidance from top leaders and subject matter experts, all of us are better equipped to fight a common nemesis. There is little doubt that we will be talking about some of these success stories in the weeks and months to come as partnerships are built and/or rekindled based on the conversations the took place over the past several days.
Among the sessions:
- A presentation by the New York police department, providing information and updates on their Real Time Crime Center initiative as well as facial identification/facial recognition.
- A panel discussion on the ORCAs in Action initiative with the LP Magazine team along with retail and law enforcement leaders from several state and regional ORCAs and solution provider partners.
- Building an ORC Investigations Task Force with Officer David Neberieza and Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan with the Chicago Police Department and Alaina Kring with Gabe’s.
- FBI Major Theft Unit Initiatives with Brennan Long with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- An exceptional class/presentation on Social Media and Open Source Investigations with Michelle Stewart with JAG Investigations.
- Interview & Interrogation of ORC Suspects with Wayne Hoover, CFI, Senior Partner at Wicklander-Zulawski and Chairman at the International Association of Interviewers (IAI).
- Best Practices and Legal Updates with Gregg Rossman, former Florida Assistant State Attorney and Legal Advisor.
- Public/Private Partnerships with Steve Francis, Acting Executive Associate Director with the Department of Homeland Security.
- Utilizing Analytics & Partnerships to Investigate Complex Fraud Cases with Melissa Van De Carr of Walgreens.
- Human Trafficking and the Organized Retail Crime Nexus with Tom Meehan at Controltek.
The Retail Fusion Center
With a different twist on a strong program, the conference also featured a Retail Fusion Center, with retailers bringing in members of their ORC programs to encourage collaboration and networking. Conveniently located just outside the primary session room, retail teams were assigned specific booth locations, inviting law enforcement participants to meet their teams, make valuable contacts, and discuss ongoing ORC investigations. As we’ve experienced with the law enforcement Fusion Centers at several asset protection conferences, the venture proved to be a success for all involved, with every booth busy with conversations throughout the event.
Those Behind the Curtain
The event also featured an Exposition Hall where industry solution providers offered opportunities for event participants to learn more about their products and services. In addition to the valued resources they provide to both the retail and law enforcement communities, these exceptional organizations truly are the unsung heroes of these events. The solution provider teams provide more than the financial resources that make these events possible. They also offer subject matter experts from within their teams that share ideas and expertise that strengthen our programs and our efforts in the fight against organized retail crime. While we may recognize their ongoing support, we must also celebrate the many ways they are leading the charge.
As part of the event, The Loss Prevention Foundation was also able to present approximately 20 LPC/LPQ Certifications and 6 ORC Certificate Course scholarships on behalf of LPF and our generous media partners. These programs provide an outstanding opportunity for loss prevention/asset protection professionals and our valued partners to further invest in their futures and add value to their organizations.
We also want to offer our congratulations to the leadership teams at CLEAR and FLEPRU for organizing this “comeback” event. Considering all the hurdles we’ve faced over the past two years, they were able to offer a quality conference that was meaningful and valuable to all those fighting organized retail crime. In 2022 the conference will once again be held at the Rosen Plaza Orlando from November 8-11. We look forward to next year’s event and encourage all of you to attend!