Serve… and Protect

So, this guy walks into a supermarket…!

Sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn’t it? Only this time it’s deadly serious—or could have been.

The other day, a man walked into a Fine Fare supermarket in Brooklyn, New York, buys some candy and then opens fire. He wounds the store manager and takes off with the cash register under his arm.

We know things could have been worse and retail—especially drug, supermarkets and convenience stores—have long been a favorite target for felons. But with thieves becoming bolder and more violent, it may be time for supermarkets to beef up security?

I know a lot of dedicated retail loss prevention professionals, many of who are former law enforcement officers. In their heart of hearts they know that retail LP is about protecting assets not people. But given recent events maybe the focus should be on the latter. But how do you do it without scaring away customers or patting them down for weapons before they enter.

No one likes the idea of security guards in the store, especially armed security. It’s not the kind of customer-friendly environment retailers want to create. Video surveillance is feasible but expensive and labor-intensive. However, “active shooter” scenarios like the one that took place at Fine Fare means it’s time to dust off and update crisis management plans and look for some professional help.

With all due respect to my consultant friends, the best place to start is with local law enforcement. Not only are off-duty police the best and most abundant source of in-store security, but local precincts can assess the neighborhood, your operations and its vulnerabilities. The Department of Homeland Security, with input from retail groups, have also developed guidelines on what to do in active shooter situations.

“To Protect and Serve” has long been the motto of law enforcement. Maybe retailers should adopt it as well.

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