When it comes to complex societal issues, passion—and tension—run high. You don’t even have to look past social media to see how intense the debate can be. But sometimes the passion can become unfocused and negative, producing no results other than making the poster feel better. Raging against “the way things are” is unproductive. When passion is directed, channeled, and funneled in a way that helps the larger community, our society reaps the benefits. Cristian Lopez, the CEO of ALTO US, is passionate and focused. Below he describes how retailers can tap into local resources to harness the power of partnerships.
Stewards of Our Communities
As the stewards of security personnel and protocols, many asset protection and loss prevention teams find themselves responsible for a whole new frontier—the communities outside of their locations’ walls.
After all, reckoning with the factors that introduce and sustain crime, violence, and vandalism can have a substantial impact on brand reputation, reported incidents, and overall shrink.
Take, for example, stores located in a community with a large population of people experiencing homelessness. Local businesses are often faced with a difficult balancing act—serving these neighbors with dignity and respect but having the tools to act if issues arise.
Being the Bridge
Unmonitored, makeshift encampments may provide temporary relief for those seeking shelter, but they can also harbor illegal activity and result in unsafe conditions for the surrounding community.
For one retailer in California, members of an encampment put themselves in significant danger by illegally tapping into a source of electricity. Another retailer reported an increased incidence of petty theft, but the incident escalated to assault when a store manager confronted the group.
Encampments in abandoned buildings and vehicles can also pose risks to local law enforcement, members of the community, and even the individuals who take residence inside them.
However, in the absence of active threats, pressing charges on these individuals doesn’t solve the problem. It creates tension among neighbors, and often isn’t a permanent solution. Instead, forward-looking businesses are acting as the bridge to a better future.
Our partners have found success working closely with community organizations, local governments, and police precincts to bring services and support to people experiencing homelessness. With open dialogue and aid at their fingertips, people are able to break the cycles of homelessness, addiction, and untreated mental health crises without entering the courtroom.
Finding the Bandwidth
But what does that mean for local loss prevention and store teams, regional leaders, and national decision-makers who are already stretched to their limits as they struggle to stay fully staffed in a tough labor market?
Finding—or creating—the bandwidth to manage these time-intensive projects is hard when you’re only one organization. Instead, teaming up with like-minded businesses, officials, and aid groups can make the process more manageable. When working as a team, it’s possible to make a positive change over time, rather than playing an endless game of whack-a-mole. There’s also more time to focus on more immediate fixes like updated security schedules and streamlined incident reporting.
This work is hard, but the return on that investment is worth the effort. It’s time we came together to create safe, thriving communities for businesses and neighbors.