It is sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I have this major task of authoring a column called "Parting Words" for LP Magazine. Throughout the life of the magazine, I've bumped into colleagues who tell me they regularly read this column and occasionally like it. Well, to all of you—lower your expectations for this issue, if that's even possible.
Peak season is a very busy time in retailing and, although I am no longer engaged in the active loss prevention activity of the season, I am "thinking about" all of you out there giving it your all. And due to all of that thinking, I am brain tired and can't write about things I have been thinking about writing about.
Like what, you ask? Well, how about—the three biggest lies in loss prevention. Or, how about—the three most dynamic LP executives followed by the companion column of the three biggest pains in the rear LP executives. (I wonder if the six of you know who you are, and, more importantly, which list you're on.)
Oh, there are a couple of more I am thinking about working on. How about—what advice did Crash Davis give Ebby Calvin LaLoosh, and why is it useful in LP? And lastly, how about—what vendors spend their time on during peak season.
After the holidays I will get back to those articles. But for the present I thought I would tell you what others have challenged the magazine to write about in 2013. All of these suggestions came from our October editorial board meeting.
How about—an article on the LP iPad app and how it is being utilized at Sears for things like intelligent audits, store visits, CCTV, and training access.
How about—mobile POS and all of the challenging scenarios associated with it. How does the industry train and educate the new-wave LP associate to deal with smart technology?
How about—laser tagging products; who is doing it and what is happening?
How about—facial recognition and identifying known deviants in the store.
How about—next generation LP leaders and what exactly that means.
How about—a continuing column on international aspects of LP.
How about—the evolution of competencies to be an LP executive.
How about—a day in the life of an LP manager.
How about—a new regular column by a leading LP executive, perhaps called the "Executive Files."
How about—more content for the younger LP associate.
How about—an ongoing column titled "Ask the Expert," which might be written by leading vendors.
There were many more ideas that came out of the meeting, but these mentioned here are all terrific ideas we hope to deliver in 2013. By the way, you do not have to be on the editorial board to offer up a suggestion or two on content. Just send us an email stating—"How about..."
These are exciting times at the magazine, and we have a lot of expectations to fulfill in 2013. For now, let us all get through peak season safe and enjoy the holidays. How about—go be a blessing and make an impact on someone's life.
Old Navy partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection for a child-safety event from September 13 – 16 with the goal of helping families make their children safer in retail stores and at home. More than 600,000 free kids safety kits were distributed to Old Navy families containing child IDs, safety tips for children of all ages, and ideas for how to talk to children about safety. Additionally, the event allowed customers to receive a 10 percent discount by donating $5 or more, which raised more than $380,000 for child safety.
"We were all thrilled to host an event that focused on enhancing child safety in the communities we serve," said Chris Nelson, vice president of loss prevention at Old Navy. "NCMEC was a perfect partner for Old Navy. We all feel so fortunate to work with NCMEC again and to work for a company that is so invested in those around us. Our founder, Don Fisher, always told us, 'We should do more than just sell clothes,' and this gave us a chance to make those words come alive."
John Walsh, host of America's Most Wanted and co-founder of NCMEC, was a partner in promoting the event. "I am so grateful to Old Navy for partnering with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to make this event a huge success," he said. "Child safety is incredibly important to me, and it means so much to find others who are doing their part to help keep kids safe."
By engaging every store in the Old Navy fleet, the event allowed the organizations to reach families nationwide and in Canada with potentially life-saving information. Customers even had opportunities to learn about safety in their communities from local law enforcement, military, and other local heroes who were invited to attend the event's in-store safety fair.
"Educating children about what to do when they find themselves in risky situations is a critical part of our efforts to prevent child abduction and exploitation," said John Ryan, CEO of NCMEC.
Best Buy Tests Benefit-Denial Technology
Best Buy is conducting an initial trial of a new anti-theft technology designed to deter shoplifters and dishonest employees by utilizing the concept of "benefit denial." The test, which has been conducted over the past couple of months, was announced at the Loss Prevention Research Council's (LPRC) Impact Workshop held in mid-October in Gainesville, Florida.
The initial merchandise target is newly released video games—a high-loss item. A specially designed locking device is affixed to the hub of the game package, locking the optical disc to its case. At the point of sale, the package is placed on a deactivation device that first authenticates the sale, and then decouples the lock from the case by transmitting a wireless signal. Best Buy's customer simply removes and discards the lock when the case is opened for the first time. The lock is built to withstand tampering, so the disc will likely be damaged or broken in an unauthorized removal, thus denying any benefit to a thief by rendering the video game unusable or unsalable. To date, the new technology has been used on four new videogame titles supplied by multiple video game producers.
The objectives of this single-store evaluation are to ensure that the technology operates properly and suitably in the Best Buy environment, and to assess the consumers' and the store associates' experiences with the product. Tim Fisher, Best Buy's director of asset protection operations, noted that the initial experience was positive, and that inventory shrinkage for the tagged titles had fallen. Best Buy is considering expanding more broadly by adding more new releases to the tagged list, and then by adding more stores. The technology is designed and manufactured by ProTeqt Technologies of Massachusetts.
Larry Nicholason, CPP
Larry Nicholason Succumbs to Lengthy Illness
Long-time loss prevention executive Larry Nicholason, CPP passed away November 8th after a long illness.
"It is with deep sorrow we share that our dear friend and co-worker, Larry Nicholason, passed away this morning after a long illness. Larry was a good friend to all who knew him and will truly be missed," said Fritz Hirchert, vice president, loss prevention/safety for Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM).
Nicholason joined NEXCOM in 1999 as a district LP and safety manager in Pensacola. He transferred to Naples, Italy, in 2005 to manage the European district. In the spring of this year, Nicholason and his wife, Cindy, moved to the Norfolk, Virginia, area where he was the LP and safety manager of the Northeast distribution center.
Nicholason began his professional career as a deputy sheriff with the Orange County Sheriff's Department with an emphasis on criminal investigations. While working there, he earned his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of Central Florida. In 1981 he entered the retail loss prevention industry as a regional LP manager for Little General Stores in Tampa. Over his 32 years in the industry, he held executive positions with a number of retailers, including Byron Stores, Enstar Specialty Retail, Silo, Goody's Family Clothing, and Thorn Americas.
"Those of us who knew Larry recognized him as an outstanding loss prevention professional," said O. Keith Wanke, vice president of LP, audit, and firearms compliance at Dunham's Sports. "But I will also remember Larry for his wit, sense of humor, and the joy he took in performing his 'magic tricks.' To this day the trick that I do not know was real or not was the magic bean trick where Larry would place a bean into the corner of his eye and produce that darn bean right out of his nose. I guess I will have to wait to see Larry in heaven to find out for sure."
The Next Big Security Headache—Mobile Payments
More than a dozen high-profile U.S. retailers, including Sears, Best Buy, Walmart, Darden Restaurants, and 7-Eleven, have joined forces and announced their intention to form a mobile payment network called the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). The stated goal listed on the organization's website is to "offer consumers a customer-focused, versatile, and seamlessly integrated mobile-commerce platform." It will be available through virtually any smart phone, according to a press release.
MCX will enter an increasingly crowded U.S. market for mobile payments using near-field communications (NFC) and other methods. The two main competitors for MCX are Google Wallet and Isis, which is backed by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless. Others are expected to enter the space, including Apple, with an NFC "app" that can be used with the new iPhone 5.
According to a recent article in Computerworld by information security expert Kenneth van Wyk, president and principal consultant at KRvW Associates LLC, security issues surrounding the mobile barcode reading and concomitant transmission of a customer's financial information are crucial to the large-scale success of the payment network. The article suggests that network developers must focus heavily on security features during the design phase, because "consumer confidence is fickle" when it comes to trading the security of personal financial information for the convenience of easy payment methods. Van Wyk makes three security suggestions:
■ Don't show the merchant the account number—In other words design the system along the lines of the chip-and-pin system utilized almost everywhere but the U.S.
■ Make it hard to eavesdrop—Steer the design away from visible bar codes that can be seen, copied, hacked, or otherwise compromised.
■ Strongly authenticate the merchant to the customer and the customer to the merchant—Encrypt, or otherwise protect, the "transmissions" between the chip in the smart phone and the terminals in the stores.
Van Wyk elaborated on his point that "a massive security failure of any of these [payment systems] could cause equally massive losses for all," from the perspective of the consumer, the retailer, and the mobile payment service provider. He pointed to a hypothetical example involving an iPhone mobile payment "app" that Starbucks has implemented, which has been used in over 26-million transactions. If consumers discover that a retailer's payment system security has been breached, they will "quite likely run screaming from that payment system...and revert to traditional cash or simplistic magnetic credit card systems," he said.
Aside from the public relations nightmare caused by the compromised customer financial information, there are potential problems of a grander scale. A systemic security problem could cause payment problems for the retailer, resulting in financial loss and forcing the retailer to scrap the new system. The service provider faces a well-publicized failure from which it may be impossible to recover.
Clearly, hand-held mobile devices have become an indispensible form of "bling" more ubiquitous than jewelry. Mobile payment systems may be the inevitable replacement for cash in a wallet, as van Wyk points out, but the threat of a security breach is ever present. The real point is for the industry to spend the necessary attention to implement security on the front end of development. Otherwise, we may have to revert to something decidedly old fashioned and low tech—cash on the barrelhead.
VICS to Merge with GS1 US
In mid-September the Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions (VICS) Association and GS1 US announced a signed memorandum of understanding to merge their operations. Integration activities are proceeding and the definitive agreement should be signed before year's end. The merger's purpose is to streamline the standards adoption process.
Since its inception in 1986, VICS has focused on standardizing retail procedures and guidelines. Its notable accomplishments include placement guidelines for anti-theft products like EAS tags, the standardization of apparel hangers, and "floor-ready merchandising," a protocol for reducing processing lead times in the retail apparel and general merchandise categories. Significant milestones achieved by the floor-ready exercise include the retail industry's endorsement of a voluntary standard for product identification (UPC-A or EAN-13) used with point-of-sale scanning devices, a communications format and set of protocols (VICS EDI) allowing for efficient electronic data interchange, and a bar code symbology for shipping containers and raw material identification.
GS1 US is the global gatekeeper of bar codes, electronic product code-based RFID, data synchronization, and electronic information exchange. GS1 US also manages the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC). VICS currently has 143 members, two-thirds of which also belong to GS1 US, which serves over 200,000 companies in 25 industries as part of the global GS1 organization.
The drive toward item-level RFID adoption is perhaps the most significant endeavor undertaken by these organizations. Currently, each entity is pursuing its own overlapping path to a common goal. Both the VICS Item-Level RFID Initiative (VILRI) and the GS1 US Item-Level Readiness Program are designed to provide the education, training, tools, and community support that retailers and brands need in order to implement electronic product code (EPC) item-level tagging into day-to-day operations. A successful merger will simplify the standardization process and should speed up item-level RFID's adoption rate.
|Kevin Lynch with his caddie at St. Andrews.|
I recently took a golf trip with a group of friends to the "Holy Grail" of golf—St. Andrews, Scotland. One of my companions on the trip was the executive editor of this publication, Jim Lee. Jim and I became business associates when I was with Sensormatic Electronics as his account representative when he was the vice president of loss prevention at Marshalls.
Jim had brought a significant number of his LP team with him from Broadway Department Stores, where he vacated the top loss prevention spot. This was the prime example of my oft-quoted saying, "You can't buy loyalty, but you can come pretty close!"
Throughout my career it has been my great pleasure to work with some of the best LP executives in retail America. I sit on the board of the Loss Prevention Foundation board of directors with many of the consummate professionals I grew up with in this industry.
As Jim and I stood on the first tee at St. Andrews, we marveled at the landscape. It was beautiful, intimidating, and exhilarating. Hitting off the first tee of any new golf course is filled with hope and trepidation of the many hazards that could befall you over the course of eighteen holes.
This feeling is not unlike the one you get when you take over the reins of a loss prevention department in a new company. On the golf course it's water hazards, bunkers, tight fairways, long carries, and undulating greens that could impede your attainment of a low score. In your company it's the personnel, policies, vendors, suppliers, and management that affect your success in lowering shrink and maximizing sales.
Eventually, Jim and I met our caddies on the first tee box. Jimmy Reid was my caddie—a diminutive man, who had caddied at St. Andrews for thirty-seven years. Jim's caddie was named Alex—a gentleman who approached his job with the utmost seriousness.
We all possess a modicum of pride in our abilities to perform our jobs. We all have a certain amount of ego that indicates we may perform it better than others. Low scores at your home course did not ensure success at St. Andrews for misters Lynch and Lee. The analogy is "spot on" that Jim's ability to keep shrink down at the Broadway didn't guarantee his success at Marshalls.
However, one of the most important concepts in your quest for success is to stop, look at the landscape, and listen to your people. Your store security and district and regional managers play in the grasslands of a challenging retail field every day. They know the weaknesses and strengths of the management teams and sales associates. Listen to them. Personally absorb how they view the landscape. You may pick up data that will change your course of action as the leader of your department.
Jim and I listened to our caddies. They, in turn, viewed our abilities as golfers as we assessed their recommendations. The player and the caddie do not always agree on club selection or type of shot. Over the course of four days with the same caddie, the communication was streamlined and the capabilities assessed more accurately. Our scores were consistently lower over the latter part of the week.
Solicit advice from your team. If they tell you it's time for new technology to play the game right, listen to them. If they have alternative ways to attack the course that is your shrinkage number, take heed.
Your people, like our caddies, are the most valuable resource in charting the course of your success. Stop, look, and listen to their views of that landscape, and you'll be a better manager and leader in retail loss prevention.
POSTSCRIPT: For those of you who know Jim and me, you can appreciate the fact that we employed most of the tenets of this missive. Checking our egos at the first tee...well, that's a work in progress.
Luis Jhon prepared for work that Saturday just like he always did. He put on his socks, shoes, pants, and that now famous blue-striped shirt. He kissed his wife, grabbed a bite of food, took a final approving glance in the mirror, and went out the door. The kids were playing as he started up the car, drove five minutes, navigating the traffic into his favorite parking spot at the Margate Walmart on West Atlantic Boulevard in Coral Springs, Florida. There he greeted his fellow employees, looked at all the things he needed to do that day, and at some point on September 22, 2012, he probably sat down at his work station to survey who was in the store.
You've been there, right? Someone walks into a department, no bag in their hands, looking around, and suddenly you get that feeling that something is about to happen. You see them conceal an item, and you call for assistance so continuous observation is maintained. The next thing you know, your heart starts racing, you are running out of the control room, and you find yourself talking to someone you've never met before, trying to convince them they need to stay and have a little chat, as they start wanting to leave more now than ever.
The vast majority of us have our quick chat with the subject. We call the police. They come, ask a few questions, and write an appearance ticket. We write up a detailed report about what we saw, heard, and did, then clock out and go home. Most of us get to look back, tell stories about our stops, log the apprehension, and share how we accomplished all of the required steps prior to the stop. This did not happen to Luis Jhon. He did not get to look back nor move on without much thought to the next day. In fact, his family will remember September 22 for the rest of their lives.
Alexandra Jhon didn't have her husband come home that day. The Jhon family was and is still not complete. Luis Jhon died because someone shot him, trying to avoid that inevitable chat about suspected unpaid items...in this case $16 worth of t-shirts. We sadly wonder "What could be in that store that is worth taking an innocent life over?" "Why did this happen to Luis and not to me on one of my routine stops?" Those questions may never be answered, but if you are wondering how you can help, then you have focused in on a question that does have an answer.
We can work together to help one of our own. As I write this, Luis's family can't pay the bills because the investigation into his death isn't complete. Here is an opportunity to show the Jhon family that we care. As loss prevention professionals, as an industry, let us demonstrate our hearts and not move on to another day, another stop, without looking back and paying respect.
The Loss Prevention Foundation has established the Loss Prevention Memorial Fund to help the Luis Jhon family pay their necessary bills in this difficult time. Sadly, we know that there will be more hurting families of LP professionals killed doing their jobs, so the memorial fund is established for more. We pray that the "more" is not you or your family, but we know we can't control the future.
We suggest that those who read this article give $10 (or more) to the Loss Prevention Memorial fund to help the Luis Jhon family and any future family in our industry who suffers the death of an LP brother or sister while in the line of duty. Please go to www.losspreventionfoundation.org and click on the yellow "Donate" button located on the lower left part of the page and send a gift. The Foundation will send a check for 100 percent of the donations on your behalf to this family in need.
Foundation Board Adds New Members
The Loss Prevention Foundation board of directors held their fall meeting October 24 – 25 at the Trump National Golf Club just north of Charlotte, North Carolina, in conjunction with the LP Magazine editorial board and vendor advisory board meetings.
Among the business conducted was the nomination and approval of two new board members:
■ Charles Delgado, Vice President of Asset Protection, BJ's Wholesale Club and
■ Sonya Hostetler, Vice President Asset Protection and Safety,Walmart Stores.
Each of these new board members has clearly demonstrated their support for industry-specific loss prevention certification. They have either personally enrolled in the LPC course or support their companies' approving the LPQ and LPC as a preferred requirement for all job postings. It is clear that each of them has a passion for improving our professional perception as an industry and that they feel professional certification is a critical step in achieving that goal.
Also, reconfirmed for another three-year term were the following individuals:
■ Kevin Valentine, LPC, Vice President, Internal Audit and Risk Management, Signet Group Services (Sterling Jewelers) and
■ Stan Welch, LPC, Vice President Loss Prevention, jcpenney.
The Foundation continues to strive for a broad range of industry perspectives so it can serve the loss prevention industry in an informed and comprehensive manner. These leaders have proven that they have tremendous industry vision and have clearly demonstrated their commitment to improving the loss prevention industry through supporting education.
"The Foundation continues to amass strong retail support for its mission—educating the loss prevention industry by providing challenging and convenient resources such as our LPQ and LPC certification programs," said Frank Johns, LPC, Foundation chairman. "Each of these professionals brings a unique perspective as a result of their extensive expertise in loss prevention and store operations."
The board also approved Marcus Felson, Ph.D., of Texas State University to a position on the Academic Committee. Dr. Felson had previously served on the committee while he was at Rutgers University.
Following are individuals who recently earned their LPC and LPQ certifications.
Recent LPC Recipients
Chris Carmody, LPC, Reg. LP Mgr, Office Depot
Steven Crenshaw, LPC, Dist LP Mgr, TJX
Mark Crumpton, LPC, Reg. Investigations Mgr, Office Depot
Chris Girone, LPC, CFI, LP Dist Mgr, Office Depot
Luis Gonzalez, LPC, LP Investigator, Michaels Stores
Tyler Hail, LPC, AP Mgr, Cabela's
Jodi Harkness, LPC, Dept Mgr LP, Lowe's
Chad Huntsinger, LPC, AP Coordinator, Brookshire's Grocery
Chris Kellett, LPC, Reg. Investigations Mgr, Office Depot
Michael Lamb, LPC, VP of AP, (formerly) The Home Depot
Douglas Lemmons, LPC, Div. LP Dir, Walgreens
Theodore Louis, LPC, Reg. LP Mgr, Office Depot
Diana Lukash, LPC, Dist LP Mgr, Office Depot
Edward Lyle, LPC, Dist AP Mgr, Weis Markets
Michael Nelson, LPC, Reg. Dir of LP, Bed Bath & Beyond
Terry Nichols, LPC, Sr Dir of LP/Safety, Retail Stores, Office Depot
Neil Parke, LPC, CFI, Dist LP Mgr, Nike
Rich Pinkerton, LPC, Dist LP/Safety Mgr, Office Depot
Marc Ringuette, LPC, LP Mgr, Rite Aid
Brian Smith, LPC, Dist LP Mgr, Walgreens
William Soop, LPC, Reg. Investigations Mgr, Office Depot
Jeff Teator, LPC, Reg. LP Mgr, Urban Outfitters
Stan Welch, LPC, VP of LP, jcpenney
Brian Young, LPC, LP Analyst, Agilence
Recent LPQ Recipients
Chad Alexander, LPQ
Justin Anthony, LPQ
Wayne Blough, LPQ, Penske
Michelle Brown, LPQ, C Spire Wireless
Brandon Brumley, LPQ, Murphy Oil USA
Michael Cavallo, LPQ, Barnes & Noble
Jacob Densley, LPQ, Cabela's
Lisa Kelleher, LPQ, Best Buy
Taylor Kozielski, LPQ, C Spire Wireless
Ryan Mast, LPQ
Michael Molthen, LPQ, Genesco
Kevin Smith, LPQ, C Spire Wireless
Kevin Turnbull, LPQ, Army & Air Force Exchange Service
Derrik Welsh, LPQ, Hastings Entertainment
Retailers today are battling online selling for their lives, and so in my opinion three variables are critical. Brick-and-mortar shopping needs to be safe, easy, and fun for customers. If not, then everyone can just buy most things online.
Loss prevention organizations can affect the first two factors. Sound crime and loss control means using problem-solving processes to evaluate and cost-effectively control the causes of "fear of crime" by customers, such as potential violent crime in the parking lot and stores, while deploying better open-selling of key merchandise and mobile POS tools means shoppers can try and buy hassle-free.
To some, everything's a problem; to others, an opportunity. Regardless of our orientation, LP practitioners exist to support their company's objectives and operations by preventing and solving its crime and loss issues. Being a skilled problem-solver is a major part of what we do.
Law enforcement, like medicine, has identified evidence-based practice as their future since multiple research projects revealed random patrol and after-the-fact crime investigations were not making their geographic areas safer.
Far-sighted law enforcement practitioners and researchers began to look for a process to increase their crime-control effectiveness. They found it in three similar processes entitled community policing (CP), intelligence-led policing (ILP), and problem-oriented policing (POP). These processes work to focus police action to reduce crime events.
Community policing primarily creates partnerships with other governmental entities and faith-based and other citizen groups to use problem-solving techniques to proactively address conditions that can breed public-safety issues like crime.
Intelligence-led policing can be defined as a strategic, targeted approach to crime control, focusing on identification, analysis, and management of persisting and developing problems or social and environmental risks that enable problems.
Finally, problem-oriented policing identifies and analyzes specific crime and disorder problems to develop effective response strategies in conjunction with ongoing assessment. At the LPRC and University of Florida, we primarily refer to this third process, but regardless, all these policing programs use a simple, but thorough problem-solving process to increase police impact—the SARA model.
The SARA Model
Like law enforcement, LP practitioners and their solutions partners typically use systematic problem-solving tools to better understand problems in order to carefully design retailer-friendly, cost-effective solutions. At the LPRC, we use the SARA model to address all projects retailers and others bring to us.
The SARA model can assist in the decision-making process, for a wide variety of issues from medical diagnosis to car repair. SARA is an acronym that stands for scan, analyze, respond, and assess. SARA is a very problem-specific process, so every problem that is identified should get special, specific attention to discover the best possible solution to the problem in question. By using the SARA model, LP teams will be able to accurately and cost-effectively identify and control crime, loss, and safety issues. (Thanks to my former student Justin Gorrell's support on this SARA description.)
The SARA Process
Scan. Scanning is arguably the easiest step in the SARA process. Think of this step as radar—simply identify and describe a current or upcoming problem. Data can come from personal observations, employee reports, unit-and-dollar loss data, CCTV footage, incident reports, and a myriad of other sources. In the same sense that a doctor would ask "Where does it hurt?," this is the first step towards developing a solution.
Other questions and statements that may be considered in the scanning step are:
■ Identifying recurring problems,
■ Identifying the consequences of the problem,
■ Prioritizing those problems and developing broad goals,
■ Confirming that the problems exist,
■ Identifying real-time indicators that a crime or crimes has been committed,
■ Determining the frequency and duration of the problem, and
■ Determining how widespread or clustered the problem is.
Analyze. Having identified characteristics of the problem, it is pertinent that more background information is compiled to identify primary, actionable causes. Being as specific as possible, the analyze step should answer the following questions: [NOTE: To create a SARA worksheet, add multiple blank lines after each question where you can place your answers.]
1. Identify the events and conditions that precede, accompany, and result from the problem.
2. Identify relevant data to be collected, such as sales reports, employee statements, etc.
3. Research what is known about the problem type or identify sources of information for use later.
4. How is the problem currently being addressed? How do others respond to similar problems? Identify strengths and limitations of the current response.
5. Develop a working hypothesis about why and specifically how the problem is occurring.
Respond. Within loss prevention there are several tools available to combat problems. Call this your "tool box" of technologies or techniques that can be used to counteract the problem identified in the scanning phase. By using the SARA process, LP teams will have research to justify the cost of new or upgraded solutions and procedures. This targeted implementation will likely show a greater return on investment as opposed to the traditional method of throwing every tool at numerous problems. In the respond stage, it is important to identify and answer the following questions:
1. Brainstorm new interventions or possible upgrades to current interventions that address each specific cause of the problem; that is make the problem harder, riskier, or less rewarding for offenders.
2. Outline a response plan and identify responsible parties.
3. State the specific objectives for the response plan.
4. Put the plan in action.
All of the work and research thus far has led to this point, but the work is still not over. There is still one more part to the SARA process.
Assessment. This is the section of SARA that makes this process so unique. As opposed to implementing new solutions and looking to tackle the next problem, the SARA process also provides for follow-up. This section of the SARA process asks the question, "Did the plan that was developed help solve the problem?" A few questions or tests may include:
1. Conduct a process evaluation. Was the plan implemented? Was it done so in accordance with the outline produced in the respond phase?
2. Collect pre- and post-response qualitative and quantitative data. Did crime or loss levels come down in test locations compared to non-test (control) locations? How do the employees and customers feel about the implementations?
3. Were the broad goals stated earlier and the specific objectives outlined attained? Why or why not?
After reviewing the answers above, identify any new strategies needed to augment the original plan. This is a good time to also refer back to any research conducted in the analyze phase to compare and contrast the findings.
Lastly, conduct ongoing assessments to ensure continued effectiveness in order to stay at least one step ahead of the next problem. The SARA process is versatile enough to be used again on the same problem. However, the earlier stages will now include information and solutions that were identified in this SARA problem-solving form.
Next steps. Regardless of the problem, we should use our problem-solving template to make sure we accurately diagnose, more effectively treat, and then measure and adjust for the future. This consistent process means more precision and a safer and more profitable environment.
LPRC Impact Conference and Action Teams
Over 120 leading LP and vendor executives participated in three days of new LP research briefings, panel discussions, and breakout action sessions on the University of Florida campus October 15 – 17. Thanks to all of our conference sponsors, participants, and planners who worked hard to pull off a successful conference. If you missed this event, please stay tuned as we announce next year's date and location.
Several new action teams have been designed so LP executives along with solutions and manufacturing partners can direct actionable research in their most critical needs.
The Sporting Goods Action Team has added Walmart, Cabela's, and Dick's Sporting Goods, along with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) for independent gun shop owners.
The Apparel/Footwear Action Team has Marmaxx and dressbarn, which is part of Ascena Retail Group that includes maurices, Justice, Lane Bryant, and Catherines brands. This team is recruiting new members.
The Department/Mass Merchandisers Action Team has formed with Sears Holdings, jcpenney, Bloomingdales, and Marmaxx. This team is also recruiting other retailers and has identified the first project focusing on employee communication and motivation, with digital selling protection next.
The Food/Drug Action Team is just starting to form with CVS/pharmacy, Walgreens, Rite Aid, SUPERVALU, Publix, Wegmans, Kroger, Kmart, and Walmart with more to come.
Other action teams are also forming. If you are interested in participating in these or other research teams, please contact me at the phone number or email address on page 50.
One of the longest held axioms in social science is, "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior." Over the years many employers have increasingly relied upon criminal background checks as the principle strategy used to screen out potentially risky hires from the workforce. The problem is, as expressed by another axiom of behavioral science, namely, "People often make bad decisions early in life." These bad decisions, which they later regret, usually are not permanent. People can recover, rehabilitate themselves, and turn their lives around.
In making hiring decisions, we find ourselves at the horns of a dilemma. Most people who are convicted of a crime, especially property offenses, will never offend again and not become a threat to society. The problem is that we do not have very good tools to predict who will be successfully rehabilitated and who will offend again. As such, most employers, on the advice of legal counsel and risk management, choose to err on the conservative side of this question. This means, if a person has been convicted in their past, we generally exclude these individuals as candidates for employment forever. The net effect of this policy is gross discrimination. This is especially true for those who have used drugs, stolen anything, and who are male minorities, particularly true for African American males.
New EEOC Guidelines
After the evidence of hiring discrimination was allowed to pile up to levels that no longer could be ignored or tolerated, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) finally took action in April of this past year. The EEOC issued enforcement guidance that is expected to yield significant practical and legal impact. The commission stated that "people cannot be denied employment solely on the basis of criminal histories." However, they stopped short of totally banning the use of criminal background checks in the hiring process.
Since this ruling in April, I have asked many in the loss prevention community what their companies were going to do in the future. A few have told me that they were going to continue to screen out former criminal offenders, knowingly taking the risk that potential discrimination lawsuits would result. However, the majority of firms have reexamined their entire hiring process, asking this critical question—"Is it necessary to exclude everyone who has a criminal history from potential employment?"
Many of you already know my position on this issue. You might even remember when I argued before a large convention audience of LP executives that dishonest employees could be successfully rehabilitated and might actually be good candidates for hiring. My logic is based upon the fact that most offenders do not reoffend. My position is further supported by the fact that those who have been caught and punished would probably be the easiest to deter, given the fact that they knew that their behavior would be more carefully watched than any other employees. In this presentation, I was mildly booed and fully expected tomatoes to fly in my direction at any moment. In hindsight, however, I still think that I am right. However, since my job was not in jeopardy, I fully recognized and appreciated the significance of my radical recommendation to this particular audience.
Well, here we are some ten years later and find that the EEOC is supporting my controversial position. Based upon this ruling, employers are expected to take the risk and hire ex-offenders, unless their prior offense is directly related to the performance of their future job. Of course, we do not have to put persons with previous embezzlement convictions in the cash office, nor drivers with a DUI behind the wheel of a delivery truck. However, when future job responsibilities are not related to their former offense, people should be given a chance to get a job, prove their honesty, and turn their lives around.
Wearing the "scarlet letter" of ex-offender is a difficult label to erase. However, it can be done. Pilots with alcohol problems are now permitted back in the cockpit in many airlines. Recovered pharmacists with former drug dependencies are now dispensing medicines in many drug stores. The list goes on. A review of today's Washington infidelity scandals clearly indicates that even the most prestigious people can make mistakes. However, most recognize their mistakes, make amends, and go on to live productive lives when employed in occupations that recognize the fact that rehabilitation can and usually does work.
Will Retail Lead the Way?
As a criminologist I would hope that the retail industry would embrace and implement these new EEOC guidelines to change their present hiring policies. Fighting expensive legal battles over this issue seems to me a waste of time and money.
The social science research literature supports the new EEOC hiring guidelines. Moreover, one could argue that the industry that hires the largest number of employees in our country should be the one to lead the rest of the nation in reducing the level of racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, and other forms of unwarranted discrimination.
I know this is a controversial subject, but firmly believe that the risks that we take in hiring ex-offenders are far smaller than our discriminatory stereotypes would lead us to believe. Who knows, perhaps it will be the retail industry that sets the national standard for reintegrating former offenders back into the mainstream of our society. In my opinion, this would be a noble and truly worthwhile achievement by the nation's largest industry as led by its loss prevention professionals.
At a recent seminar we were asked by a participant what other interview formats were available besides the selective interview. The selective interview is a structured series of questions that elicit behavioral responses from the subject that can be categorized as typically truthful or untruthful. The purpose of this interview is to identify truthful individuals to eliminate them from the investigation.
There are several additional types of interviews we will discuss in some detail that have differing purposes, but have significant utility in dealing with suspects and witnesses. Over the next several columns we will discuss the PEACE interview, the cognitive interview, and fact-gathering interviews. The first interview we will consider is the PEACE interview.
Moving Away from Confessions
The PEACE interview was developed in the United Kingdom by Dr. Eric Shepherd. It was through Dr. Shepherd's work that interviewer deficiencies and psychological issues relating to the interview were considered in a conversation-management approach. This interview moved the country from an accusatory interview to one of developing information from victims, witnesses, and suspects.
Since 1984 the United Kingdom has required electronic recording of the interviews of suspects after a series of cases were overturned by the Court of Appeals because of false confessions. It was decided that the police service would benefit from a single model of interviewing that was not focused on obtaining confessions.
The PEACE interview took a different view of the process from adversarial to something more akin to interviews conducted by counselors or psychotherapists. This made sense since Dr. Shepherd was an on-call psychologist.
The use of reciprocity at the beginning of the interview helps open the conversation and builds rapport between the interviewer and subject. The interview itself is designed to be aware of the subject's sensitivities, self-esteem, and self-image. The technique uses the word "response" as a memory jogger to aid the interviewer in remembering key components to developing a relationship. The term response stands for:
Equals (speak as equals while talking to each other)
The PEACE model of investigative interviewing helps obtain accurate and reliable information from victims, witnesses, and suspects. This information should always be tested against evidence and other witness statements to determine its reliability.
It should be noted that the United Kingdom is unique in that a suspect who chooses to remain silent runs the risk of having an adverse inference being drawn in court. The suspect must give an account to police that is consistent with that given to his legal advisor, and he may not later use a story or alibi he did not tell the police. The police also are not allowed to use any form of inducements or promises to a suspect making admissions. Furthermore, they are not allowed to use rationalization or minimization during the interview to induce an admission from the suspect. In general, whenever possible, an interviewer should not interview a victim so he may remain non-judgmental during the interview.
The PEACE acronym was designed to help interviewers consistently remember the parts of the interview. PEACE stands for:
Planning and preparation
Engage and explain
Planning and Preparation
The first step in the PEACE model is to plan and prepare for the interview. As with our interviews here in the United States, this would include room preparation and logistical issues surrounding the conversation. This might also encompass any legal issues, such as Miranda warnings.
The interviewer in this first step would consider the elements of the crime that must be proved, evidence available, the timeline of events, possible suspect explanations, and background of the people involved. The interviewer also would consider the important topics to be covered during the interview and the order in which they should be reviewed.
There is also a meeting with the suspect's legal advisor to provide him a basis for the arrest and give him an opportunity to understand the evidence against his client. The suspect's legal advisor then has the right to meet with his client and determine his story or explanation for the incident.
Engage and Explain
Especially in the United Kingdom where specific legal requirements exist, the interviewer must record the time, day, date, and location of the interview during the audio-video recording. There will also be introductions of the legal advisor for the suspect, plus any other investigators or interpreters. There will also be an advisement of the caution and explanation of it, plus a check for the subject's comprehension of the caution.
The interviewer then details the reason for the interview, laying out the explanation of the offense in layman's terms. The interviewer must then lay the groundwork for the arrest, although there is no requirement that the interviewer provide all the evidence available to the suspect.
The interviewer sets ground rules for the interview, asking for the truth and as much detail as possible. The interviewer encourages the subject to take as much time as is necessary to answer the question and think about his answer before and after he talks.
The interviewer also explains the second investigator's role in note taking and helping with materials or evidence that may be presented during the conversation.
Account, Clarify, Challenge
Next, the interviewer asks for the suspect's account of events relating to the incident. The interviewer may also ask a question to determine if the suspect is willing to admit to the incident prior to asking for the suspect's recountal of events.
As the suspect offers his untainted version of the story, the interviewer asks no questions and uses silence to encourage a longer narrative response from the suspect. During the untainted story, the interviewer observes the suspect and listens to the story to determine potential "hotspots" or omissions that will need further explanation or clarification. If the suspect's narrative lacks detail, he should be reminded to include as much detail as possible before the interviewer asks him to retell the events.
The interviewer will now begin to develop the suspect's story in segments, using open-ended questions to encourage a narrative detailed response in the particular segment. Then the interviewer will begin to probe the segments using more open-ended questions followed by probing questions. A probing question is more focused than in an open-ended question, but is designed so they may obtain precise information.
The interviewer then summarizes the details provided by the suspect and links them to the overall story provided. The interviewer should ask the suspect for clarifications of any information that is vague or contradictory.
The interviewer may at this point suspend the interview for a short time to review what the suspect has told him.
The interviewer now plans and prepares to re-interview the suspect regarding contradictions or anomalies in his story. The interviewer reviews all the suspect's responses and details the contradictions in them relating to the story itself, evidence, or witness statements.
The interviewer returns and restates any legal requirements and confirms the previous introductions. The interviewer at this point selects a contradiction and asks the suspect to take them through this portion of the story again. The suspect is asked to clarify the contradiction without being called a liar.
The interviewer may now offer evidence, statements, or other pertinent information that contradicts the suspect's story. The interviewer then asks the suspect to account for the apparent evidence to the contrary.
Once the suspect has had a final opportunity to explain any contradictions, he will have an opportunity to again consult with his legal advisor. The interviewer may decide that additional interviewing is appropriate.
The interviewer does not use rationalization or minimization to encourage an admission from the suspect, but instead uses the suspect's own words and contradictions to create a trap leading to an admission and, perhaps, a full confession.
The final component of the PEACE interview is to evaluate the information obtained and the evidence in the investigation. The interviewer may determine that there are additional investigative leads to be followed or that further interviews need to be conducted. The interviewer should also evaluate his performance during the PEACE interview and consider lessons learned from the encounter.
The structure of the PEACE interview can be used in witness interviews to encourage a comprehensive examination of the subject's story and sequence of events. Using a structured approach to the interview will elicit more details and relevant facts than a rambling, non-structured approach to the process.
In our next column we will consider the cognitive
interview, which assists a victim or witness in accurately recalling events.
Part of the role of a magazine that aspires to be "the voice of loss prevention" is to provide thought-provoking information that may run counter to the prevailing views of our industry. There are a couple of articles in this issue that meet that criteria and will hopefully stimulate not only introspection on your part, but discussion inside your organization and among your peers.
Myth vs. Reality
The idea in the corporate world that we can continue to squeeze more and more productivity from fewer and fewer resources is the topic of Walter Palmer's cover article, "Doing More with Less?" on page 15. Those of you who have been asked to take on more and more responsibility have likely already come to the conclusion that something must give. Palmer examined the concept empirically with several retailers and came to the conclusion that many C-suite executives may not want to hear.
In his Academic Viewpoint column on page 26, Dr. Richard Hollinger examines the implications of recent EEOC guidelines that state that "people cannot be denied employment solely on the basis of criminal histories." This calls into question the common practice by many retailers led by their LP organizations of using criminal background checks as a major part of their pre-employment screening process. Will this fundamentally change the way retailers hire associates? Dr. Hollinger thinks it should and encourages LP professionals to lead the way.
LP Giving Back
There are several items in this issue that are worthy of your attention that are not controversial at all, but examples of one of the best parts of our industry—giving back to those in need.
The first is a memorial fund set up by the Loss Prevention Foundation for the families of loss prevention personnel harmed in the performance of their duties (see page 38). The fund was set up in the wake of the shooting death of Luis Jhon, an LP associate with Walmart. Jhon was sadly murdered by a shoplifting suspect who attempted to leave the Florida store with t-shirts worth a mere $16. Please read the article and respond as your heart moves you.
The lead item in the Industry News section on page 66 reports on a child-safety initiative conducted by Old Navy in their North American fleet of stores. The fashion retailer partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, a non-profit organization frequently supported by LP organizations, and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection for a four-day in-store event that distributed information to families for protecting children.
In the wake of the amazing destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy, eBay and PayPal used their vast resources to provide relief to victims of the mega-storm. Paul Jones describes these efforts on page 28.
Your Input Required
Starting on page 29, Jim Lee and those of us on the magazine staff talk about our recent editorial board meeting and some of the items we discussed to move the magazine forward for our readership. As is mentioned in that interview-style article, we are fortunate to have a great board of executives who offer us their insights into what subjects we should cover and ways to better serve the industry.
However, everyone who reads this magazine is, in fact, a de facto member of the editorial board because we solicit and expect to hear your critique and suggestions for what you want from the magazine. What issues should we cover? How do you want to access the information? What can we do to help you advance your career?
Please take the time to give us your input. The tagline we print on the cover—"The Voice of Loss Prevention"—doesn't refer to our voice, but your voice.
Editor and Publisher