Skip to comments.Wal-Mart: Get serious about security or give it up
Posted on 02/28/2011 10:43:15 PM PST by kathsua
It is far past time for Wal-Mart to either get serious about store security or abandon the effort and pass the savings along to customers. I was hoping to avoid writing about my experiences at the Hutchinson Walmart as a security officer, something I enjoyed for 18 months before resigning to run for public office. My hesitation comes from not wanting to reveal security information that would be harmful to store operations or lead to even greater thievery. I have a deep respect and friendship with a number of Walmart's local managers and employees. I miss working with many of them and will always treasure relationships developed while working there.
Yet I want to be honest with the public about how ridiculous Wal-Mart security has become, not because of local decisions but from dictates coming down from their Arkansas headquarters and the many security supervisors who have little or no background in security but implement and interpret those policies daily. Guidelines and rules are critical in an organization with thousands of stores and millions of associates but they need to be tempered with logic and common sense.
The latest Wal-Mart hysteria involves several security officers - the company calls them asset protection - fired after they successfully wrestled a gun from a man who tried to get into the store (not in Kansas) and may have been on his way to another shooting spree that could have wounded or killed customers or workers. The gunman was stopped without anyone being injured, but the next day all security employees involved were fired because they violated what is known as AP 9, the security bible for Wal-M art.
Make no mistake about it; there was a violation of company policy by not breaking off contact with the gunman. It is rare when a shoplifter or troublemaker coming to the attention of store security is armed, but it does happen. My experience tells me that in most instances security personnel will back off when confronted with a weapon, which is what they should normally do, but the situation described by those involved in the latest incident indicates that a much more serious situation was likely averted by their actions. Their reward from Wal-Mart: losing their job.
The company has become so concerned about being sued that it has lost all degree of common sense. It makes no exceptions for situations in which security officers legally and properly confront thieves, are pushed or otherwise assaulted or have recovered stolen merchandise. Under Wal-Mart policy, they must back away and allow the shoplifter to freely walk out the door, get into a vehicle and drive away. This is absurd, especially in Kansas, where state law gives merchants considerable latitude in dealing with those caught stealing or otherwise disturbing store business.
Without going into specific procedures and policies, situations that if made public would only enable more shoplifting, I can tell you with complete assurance that Wal-Mart has adopted regulations that enhance and encourage stealing rather than provide for apprehension and deterrence. Since I left last year as a security officer, the situation has only grown worse with considerable more restraint on what can and cannot be done with shoplifters. The situation would be laughable were it not for how current policies handcuff those trying to prevent losses and lead to an increasing amount of merchandise being stolen, triggering losses that are made up eventually by higher than necessary prices. While I am not free to give exact dollar figures, the amount is staggering, with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of items walking out of the Hutchinson store annually. Locally, several excellent security officers who were doing an outstanding job of catching thieves and preventing losses were let go because they dared to touch or make contact with a thief who had pushed them or tried to run from the store. This is no way to run a railroad, yet alone a retail giant that prides itself in offering low prices and a safe customer environment. Not all store managers are comfortable handling security but those who are, such as Hutchinson's Josh Anderson, should be empowered to handle security in their stores without being second-guessed and overruled unless there is a pattern of abusive actions or unjustified stops of suspected shoplifters.
So my unsolicited advice for Wal-Mart or any other mass retailer that doesn't allow its security personnel to be effective is to abandon the largely in-name-only shoplifting security program, save the money and reduce prices accordingly. Stop ruining the lives of a lot of dedicated employees who work hard to stop thieves, become minimally effective because of overly restrictive policies and wind up quitting in frustration or being fired for doing their job.
Then again, if Wal-Mart executives down in Bentonville were to be suddenly struck with logic they would develop new policies that conform to local and state regulations on shoplifting; hire people with some degree of security background; supervise them with veteran security people rather than those who only know retailing and in many instances have zero security or law enforcement background; pay a few dollars more per hour to get folks with common sense and who would fairly and effectively approach suspects; then sit back and watch how many millions of dollars in losses could and would be prevented.
Incidentally before Deming retired from broadcasting he used to run the radio station that carried Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators.
I lived in Hutchinson as a child. It was a decent town back in the early 80’s. I’ve been back there several times and was just there and I read and watch the news all the time, anyway. Hutchinson is a stinkhole these days and I wouldn’t live there no more than I would in Wichita. (I moved out of Wichita 5 years ago, but I’m still close.) I actually think Hutch’s murder rate is higher per capita than Wichita. I would almost bet money on it. It’s no surprise that the Walmart there receives it’s share of 5-finger discounts and that security would be an issue.
BTW, Hutchinson’s problem is the same as Dodge City’s and now Wichita’s. TOO MUCH (ILLEGAL) IMMIGRATION.
“People” will always sue Walmart. For one simple reason. That is where the money is. Nuff said.
Yes, people will sue Wal Mart — period. And the irony is, now those fired security employees will sue and they’ll probably take Wal Mart to the cleaners for being fired over this.
And this is one time where I am in favor of litigation. BTW, I happen to know that little suits in Bentonville who know nothing about the realities on the ground in the stores are making a lot of decisions that store personnel hate. This company is heading for some rough sledding.
ripe for terrorist attack!
We, as a society have hit moral rock bottom. We expect looting when the shtf but now expect it for other reasons. Teen flash attacks, power disruptions, network (registers down temporarily) fake distractions, robberies will become worse until there will no longer be a need for actually paying for merchandise. Why pay for anything when you know you won’t be stopped walking out the door?
Yes, I work for another big retailer and see the same thing here.
Sometimes I wonder if in the Utah incident involving the gun-toting shoplifter, would proper training of the employees involved have made a difference in their following company policy?
Time to install the TSA with their groping and RAPISTscan machines at the entrances! Remember, if you see something strange, report it!
I wonder why Mr. Deming cares so much about Wal-Mart? If Wal-Mart chooses to have lax security policies that cause massive losses, that is their business.
I worked at KMart in high school and they had tougher security policies than Wal-Mart. I worked in electronics and helped apprehend many thieves.
The fact that KMart is still in business is proof that economic miracles do exist!
Wal-Mart should be taken to task for being poor *citizens* in their communities for making lawlessness easy and consequence-free. This only encourages the behavior elsewhere.
Define "strange," from a Wal-Mart vantage...
Bump for reference.
I missed the sarcasm tag.
Perhaps if we as a nation hadn't been tolerating “citizens” that think it's their “divine right” to steal, as long as it's from “big pockets”, we might see less of this behavior?
Maybe we “went off the rails” somewhere when we allowed scumbag lawyers and juries to “stick it to the man” in the name of “social justice”?
Walmart used to be more aggressive in pursuing shoplifters until they realized they were depleting all their customers because they would be banned for life after they were prosecuted. They made a poor decision that essentially holds the door open for thieves.
Time will tell if they change their policy and again get serious. In the meantime, we all pay the costs of theft. Just like the good taxpayers we are paying for the theft of politicians, welfare leaches, union thugs, and Democrats in general.
was at a local Walmart during a “blitz” a few years ago and the place was practically looted. Herds of feral children walked out with arms filled with clothes and stuff. the floors were covered with items tossed on the floors as a distraction, glass and plastic spilled all over. It was like a riot and I’m sure it happens a few times a year, especially when the kids are out of school.
The Obama Youth in action..
I don't follow your reasoning. By definition a shoplifter is not a customer. I thought the reason that Walmart set a minimum of $25 as the minimum amount that they would allow to be stolen was because it cost them too much to have such cases prosecuted.
How would Walmart or any other retailer stop that though? Unfortunately it is most likely illegal for private security to gun down thieves in such situations.
Why would I have need for a sarcasm tag? And why was what I posted at all at odds with anything you posted there?
it’s more of a statement regarding the state of our society.
In MD, it’s illegal to do just about anything to preserve private property so events like this will probably increase in frequency as prices rise.
I’m glad we’re moving away from here because if anything were to happen, most of these government dependents would get real hungry, real quick.
My local Wal-Mart has their store greeter check the receipt of everyone leaving the store with an item not in a bag. I ignore them and walk past because I consider it to be against my 5th and 14th Amendment rights to be free of self incrimination and illegal search and seizure of stuff I paid for and already own. At least that’s the argument I’d give them if ever confronted. Generally loss prevention people need to witness the suspect hiding the product, not just walking past from the checkout area.
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