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By Jac Brittain, LPC
“I’m proud to have you as part of my family.” That was the tone and the message shared by Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross of the Boston Police Department as he addressed the audience at the fifteenth-anniversary meeting for LP Magazine.
The first African-American chief in the history of the Boston Police Department, Gross shared his personal story as a police officer and how the
department has worked with the community—often those in depressed areas who have historically maintained a conflicted relationship with the police—to create a winning culture and a strong, positive relationship between the community and the police department.
Gross talked about the department sending ice cream trucks with free ice cream into depressed neighborhoods, community policing partnerships, licensed clinical social workers, peace walks, “shop with a cop” events, and “Father Clint Eastwood” into the community to strengthen the relationships and bridge the gap between police officers and the community.
He discussed “cadet” programs that bring young men and women into the police academy to help build a more positive impression of the police and what they do, and the impact that the program has had on those that have participated. He boasted of an officer who helped compile a “black history book” that was distributed in city neighborhoods. Every program and every approach discussed emphasized “the voices of logic versus the ignorance of destruction” and how these innovations and attitudes have improved relationships throughout the city of Boston.
But Gross also brought a similar message to the members of the audience, providing several examples underscoring the power of cooperation between the retail community and the police department. For example, many of us are aware that retail surveillance cameras helped to identify the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. But Gross further revealed the outpouring of support from Target corporation in the form of batteries, flashlights, medical supplies, water, food, Gatorade, and “anything we needed” to support police and first responder efforts both during and following the tragic event. He touted the Macy’s “Unity in the Community” program in the city and how Burger King surveillance cameras helped support police in the wake of another dangerous crime. He stressed some of the different ways that all of us can get involved and make a difference when we work together.
In a time when our nation is facing a wave of tragic incidents and civil unrest, it energized the audience to hear progressive, proactive, and productive solutions to real problems. Rather than finger-pointing and excuses, we heard real stories of unity, action, and hope. Gross and the Boston Police Department have provided a map for how the retail community can get involved, how we’ve successfully contributed in the past, and how we can make a difference moving forward.
To satisfy the cynics looking to poke holes in a positive message, we can agree that not every problem can be solved with ice cream or Clint Eastwood. But efforts and attitude can lead to positive change. We need both innovation and cooperation to help us move forward, and the programs in Boston are definitely a step in the right direction.
By Bill Turner, LPC
When it comes to active-shooter incidents, there is no question; we are seeing more and more cases of active shooters than ever before. Some are terrorist related, but many are not. Just recently, a fourteen-year-old boy in South Carolina shot and killed his father and then went to an elementary school and shot a teacher and two students. One of those students was a six-year-old boy.
Recent active-shooter statistics are sobering:
- Between 2000 and 2013, the FBI identified 160 active-shooter incidents in the United States that killed a total of 486 people and injured 557 more. And since those statistics were compiled, two of the deadliest active-shooter incidents in US history have occurred.
- Statistics show that about 70 percent of active-shooter incidents identified occurred in a school or business setting, and 60 percent of them ended before police arrived.
- Twenty-seven of these incidents, or nearly 17 percent, occurred at schools, resulting in 57 deaths and 60 injuries. Of the 20 active-shooter incidents at high schools and middle schools, all but three were carried out by students.
- In 64 incidents in which the duration of the active shooting was proven, 44 (69 percent) of them ended in five minutes or less, with 23 (36 percent) ending in two minutes or less.
Active-Shooter Training and Drills
Recently, shots rang out in the hallway of the Upper Grade Center in Bourbonnais, Illinois. This time, however, the shots weren’t meant to hurt anyone—they were blanks. The local police were conducting an active-shooter drill at the school.
School Resource Officer Travis Garcia arranged the active-shooter training to teach his middle school and faculty the best way to survive an attack. Garcia stated, “Traditionally, students and teachers have been told to lock down and put their trust in a wood or metal door. We’re not doing that anymore. We’ve seen what’s been going on in the world around us, and we’ve evolved to empower, to make sound decisions that will decrease their chances of becoming victims. Now, instead of just hiding and hoping, teachers and students are taught barricading techniques, throwing objects, and swarming—anything to slow the shooter down. Then they are taught to escape as soon as they can safely do so.”
In Bourbonnais’s case, they learned the acronym ALICE: alert, lock down, inform, counter, and evacuate. ALICE is one of the leading active-shooter response methods based on what has worked for survivors of active-shooter incidents. One eighth grader said it made her feel that “no matter what the situation, we could band together and do anything to protect ourselves.” Another eighth grader said the training gave them “a sense of power and the confidence to respond.” One of the teachers observed that the training “gives you a different perspective when you have a classroom full of kids. Their safety comes first.” That same teacher said she felt “empowered to respond” if an actual active-shooter incident occurred.
The statistics are alarming, and active-shooter incidents seem to be on the rise. But active-shooter response techniques are evolving to reflect what has actually proven successful in real-life situations. More and more, school children are taking part in drills to lessen their chances of becoming victims.
By Jac Brittain, LPC
A question frequently asked by the typical retail customer—and even some loss prevention professionals just getting started in their careers—involves many of the smaller stores where they shop and how shoplifting and other retail shrink concerns are managed in retail stores with no loss prevention team.
There are very few retail companies that actually attempt to manage their stores with no loss prevention program. Considering the significant impact that retail shrink can have on the business, most retailers recognize the crucial need to manage merchandise losses and protect all of the various assets of our retail stores. As a result, a loss prevention program often exists, but is managed in a different way than might be expected in a traditional department store setting where resources are devoted to loss prevention personnel who are specifically charged with identifying and apprehending shoplifters.
Similar Expectations But a Different Approach
In many of the smaller, “specialty” stores, it may appear to the untrained eye that these retailers manage the stores with no loss prevention. However, most of these companies have many different programs in place that are intended to help the store manage merchandise theft and other losses. Often the program is locally managed by having loss prevention personnel cover multiple store locations. The focus of the loss prevention initiatives in these settings is often placed on prevention and deterring theft and other incidents before they happen rather than utilizing store resources to actively attempt to apprehend shoplifters.
From an asset management standpoint, this will involve several different levels of deterrence.
- Physical security tools
- Managing the various operational controls
- Investigative measures
- The ability to teach and train
Complement the Culture
Different types of retail require different types of management, and the loss prevention culture must be modified to best meet the needs of the business. It’s not simply a matter of the size of the building or the product being sold. It’s about the countless other factors that can and will influence the way that the business operates. One type of program isn’t necessarily better than any other. But they are different, and that should be our focus. Whether learning something for the first time or revisiting fundamental concepts of the business and the profession, all of us must adapt in order to remain relevant.
An education in retail loss prevention is an ongoing process, but in many ways constants are just as important as change. The fact remains that every successful retail organization must have an effective loss prevention culture in order to be successful. Some of the best loss prevention practices are invisible. Whether shopping in these stores or considering a career move in loss prevention, embracing that mindset might take your professional development in a new direction. Keep in mind that it’s often just as important to understand what we don’t see, and how that might ultimately change our perspective and a loss prevention career path.
By Brittany Griffin, LPRC
The Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) supports retailer chains in two very distinct ways: by developing and improving asset protection strategy and processes, and developing and improving asset protection techniques and technologies.
Crime and loss control strategies tend to work best when deploying evidence-based efforts to influence offender decisions. The three primary ways this works is to:
- Increase Effort. Make it appear very difficult to successfully commit a crime.
- Increase Risk. Make it appear highly probable the offender will be detected and sanctioned.
- Decrease Potential Benefit or Reward. Make it appear the crime will not be worth the time, effort, or potential consequences.
See, Get, Fear
A major aspect of influencing offender decisions is accomplished through situational awareness. Situational awareness is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the meaning of critical elements of information with respect to what is happening around us with regard to our mission. More simply stated, it’s knowing and understanding what is going on around us at any particular time.
- See. We must help offenders notice or know about our efforts.
- Get. We must help offenders understand how our efforts will disrupt or document their actions.
- Fear. We must make our efforts appear very credible to offenders.
The LPRC’s Zones of Influence vision further emphasizes how we establish sensors in, as well as deliver, efforts in concentric zones.
These Zones of Influence have been identified as:
- Zone 1—Specific points or assets
- Zone 2—Specific interior category areas
- Zone 3—Store entry and overall interior
- Zone 4—Parking lot entry and interior
- Zone 5—Cyber and surrounding build/social communities
Through this concentric zone model, the LPRC research and development vision articulates that retailers require more and better situational awareness (diagnoses) and a tightly focused intervention (treatment) housed within these zones to more effectively deter and mitigate crime and loss threats and events.
By Jac Brittain, LPC
“Leading the way” has become an overused catchphrase for all kinds of products and services. So when we hear about solution providers “leading the way” toward new loss prevention technology solutions, our expectations are often jaded by past experiences and broken promises.
In a profession often driven by our suspicious nature, we want more than a colorful promotion or flashy sales pitch to convince us that our financial and human resources are being invested in genuine solutions. We want partners that are willing to invest more in a relationship than simply providing a product. We need something more—something legitimate and authentic to validate our decisions. As a result, we have raised the bar for our solution providers. Innovation must be captured as an approach to the business rather than just a new concept or product design. “Leading the way” has to be more than a catchphrase—it must be an attitude.
A Different Landscape
We live in a time where change has become the status quo, an era driven by innovation and creativity that urges us to take the next step—and the one after that—as we search for answers and set the tone for what lies ahead. As the retail industry adapts to the brisk pace and escalating demands of the new-age retail customer, the landscape is shifting. There are evolving roles and responsibilities. But there are also new threats. Opportunities for loss exponentially increase with the mounting prospects for growth, change, innovation, and profits.
There is a greater demand that has been placed on the loss prevention professional of the new millennium. Over the past decade and a half there has been a social and professional shift compelled by the mountains of change that have forever altered the way that we live, work, shop, and communicate. We have new roles and responsibilities coupled with greater expectations to protect and serve the retail community and the retail customer—often with limited resources and manpower to accomplish all of the many tasks that have been thrust upon us. This shift has been acknowledged and largely welcomed as the role has matured and our place firmly planted in the retail infrastructure.
An Industry Imperative
Technology is seen as a primary driver that will impact the role of the loss prevention profession in the years to come. This includes preventing the exposures that new technology may afford, as well as how to best leverage loss prevention technology solutions to combat retail shrink and loss from all sources. It then makes it a mission-critical objective for loss prevention professionals to embrace and utilize these tools in order to impact the many different aspects that are a part of protecting the retail business, our employees, and our customers.
As a result, the ability to have solution providers that can help the loss prevention practitioner to best use these resources and educate our teams will be at a premium. Solution providers need to be experts in next-generation technologies and experts in next-generation loss prevention. This expertise must be fully explored to meet and anticipate the needs of retail clients by providing tools that are cutting edge and continually evolving.
Collaborative thought leadership that helps us to better understand the tools changing the retail landscape is an essential aspect of future development, and solution providers are critical to assisting practitioners on emerging trends. Those that proactively adapt to these trends will lead the industry, drive innovation, and add value. Industry leaders and solution providers who see the landscape and forecast where retail is headed will be the ones that will have the greatest long-term success.
However, it is an industry imperative that both industry leaders and solution providers are willing to take the steps to broaden their understanding of this tidal shift in retail. It’s just as important for loss prevention teams to be willing to reach across the table to work together and take action.
Has your organization truly taken the opportunity to fully understand and appreciate the other side of our partnerships? Have you? Taking the time to both share and listen will help complement the technology with effective protection strategies and better working relationships. This is critical for retailers in order to get the results that they are looking for. This will be paramount for solution providers so that they can tailor their products and service offerings based on what’s truly needed to help take the next steps.
SIDEBAR: More on LossPreventionMedia.com
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