Retail Workers vs. Police Officer Homicides
It was recently reported by Business Insiders that “more retail workers than law-enforcement officers were killed in homicides on the job for 6 years in a row.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics First-line supervisors of retail sales workers (40 fatalities), cashiers (35 fatalities), police and sheriff’s patrol officers (34 fatalities), and taxi drivers (27 fatalities) were the occupations with the greatest number of homicides in 2015.
Now granted, these numbers are from 2015 and we all know that the number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen over the last several years. What we do not know is have the number of workplace homicides in the retail industry also increased? We do not know mainly because the statistics that we would normally rely on have not been updated online over the last two years.
We do know that the law enforcement professionals are aware of the dangers that our society is facing, as well as the existing culture where attacking the police seems to be acceptable to some. Some would even say that their job is dangerous and being injured is part of their jobs. Although I could debate that for the next several years as on the job injury or death is no more part of the job for police officers that it is for any other profession.
Again, we know that the police leadership is taking numerous steps to protect their officers, and more than anytime in our country’s history everything that the police officers are doing today is under the constant microscope and very likely to be on video. But in the retail world, what are businesses doing to address the high number of workplace violence incidents?
Retail Workplace Violence
If in fact the numbers of workplace homicides are higher in retail than in police work you would think that that would be prime time news. You would also think that businesses are making positive changes to protect their workers and their customers, right? Not really.
I would be remiss in not mentioning the fact that the high number of retail homicides may also be influenced by the ever increasing numbers of retail businesses, some of which bring an increased risk for staff. For example, 24/7 convenience stores have historically been at higher risk of robbery than say an ice cream store. With that being the case you would think that convenience stores would have some of the best security systems, right? Nope!
One major convenience store chain has always had a policy that if someone comes in and commits a robbery, the employees are supposed to wait for a period time (e.g. 10-15 minutes) before they call the police. Why? It was their opinion that that would give the crook time to get away so the chances that the police would arrive during the commission of the crime and risk having the employee taken hostage or killed, was greatly reduced. However, there is also the argument that this policy of delayed notification to the police would also encourage more robberies, as the criminals would know that they will get a head-start and could be miles away by the time the police were even called.
Retail Security Mitigation
One of the first things that retailers need to do is determine a reasonable security plan and ensure that it is in writing and that all staff is trained to it. The goal is to reduce the risks of serious injury or death to the employees and other customers. That being said, expecting the staff to do nothing for an extended period of time after being held up at gun point is not reasonable.
Retailers need to understand their risks and vulnerabilities. In order to do so they need to retain the services of a security professional that understands how to determine the risks and vulnerabilities and how to mitigate them to the lowest possible levels. This is not a time to be cheap and do it yourself, or hire a non-qualified person that claims to be an expert in everything. The reality is how much do you value your business, your staff, your brand, and your business reputation? There are plenty of businesses that have closed after a serious incident due to the fact that either no one wanted to work at that business, or no one wanted to shop there, all due to the perception that it was not safe.