Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bet You Haven't Planned for This One!

You run a restaurant, a retail shop, a department store, a sporting goods store, a grocery story, a pharmacy -- just to name a few -- and you have a "rent-a-cop" or in-house "loss prevention" security officer on duty.

Someone tries to skip out without paying or is suspected of shoplifting, and your employee follows them outside and stops them.  A scuffle ensues -- that's police talk--and your employee "detains" -- more police talk -- the suspect -- still more police talk -- and city or county law enforcement officers are called.

When the first officer arrives to assist your "loss prevention" person he/she notices that the "suspect" is having trouble breathing or showing signs of medical distress.

Just imagine the questions that generates.  Imagine how much worse it might get, after the police call emergency medical services and the "suspect" dies on the way to a hospital.

You don't have to imagine it.  It happed Friday, June 1, at a Southern California Walmart Store.

The Los Angeles County coroner's spokesperson said they don't know yet if the man died as a result of the struggle or from some pre-existing medical condition.

Do you have a PLAN for that?  What would you do, what could you say?  What are the odds a family member will file a lawsuit against you?  What if the "loss prevention" officer was white and the alleged shoplifter was not?  What if there was no sign that anything had been taken from the store?

You can take a lesson from Walmart.  The company spokesperson got off to a good start. Her comments were timely.  She explained the "loss prevention" employee is suspended pending an investigation.  She extended the company's sympathy -- or at least she observed "it's a sad situation" anytime "there's a loss of life."  And she added the company was cooperating with law enforcement.

What would you do?  What would you say?

1 comment:

  1. This is very unfortunate and sad event. No one will expect such things. I think the best way to deal with suspects would be set up guidelines for ‘loss prevention’ officer that any suspect should be treated with a little ease till the police arrives or his crime is proved.