Hy-Vee last week announced the introduction of an in-house armed security team to manage theft and in-store disturbances.
The Midwest grocery chain said in a statement that it has long worked with third-party contractors or off-duty law enforcement that work in a security capacity. The goal of bringing it in-house is “to create a consistent look for the security team and consistent approach to customer service and security across all [its] stores.”
The move is also meant to address the rise in retail crime.
“I think across the country, we’re seeing an increase in thefts and different crimes in retail locations,” Hy-Vee Vice President of Security Jamie Sipes told KY3 TV in Missouri.
The uniformed officers, many with backgrounds in law enforcement, will be trained in de-escalation techniques and equipped with guns and tasers. Not every store across Hy-Vee’s eight-state region will have a security officer.
“We’re really a visual deterrent to criminal activity and violence,” Mr. Sipes said. “And so we are not looking to interrupt people’s rights. We’re there to be an extension of our legendary customer service within Hy-Vee to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees.”
The National Retail Federation’s “2021 Retail Security Survey” showed retailers in 2020 with a 57 percent hike in organized crime and a 50 percent increase in shoplifting. Reasons for the increase included operational complications caused by COVID-19, changes in policing and sentencing guidelines and the growth of online marketplaces.
Armed security guards are most commonly found in inner cities to combat high shoplifting rates, and incidents involving them often get heavy play in the media. In July, the family of a man killed by a security guard working at a Giant supermarket in Northwest Baltimore called for him to be charged. In August, a Kroger store in Memphis cut ties with security company Allied Universal following a second-degree murder charge against a security guard.
In May, a Casey’s convenience store on the south side of Iowa City “paused” its practice of having an armed security guard on-site after concerns were raised over racial bias and the message having armed guards sent to the local Black community.
- Hy-Vee Introduces New Retail Security Team to Stores – Hy-Vee
- Hy-Vee adding team of armed retail security officers across some stores – KY3 TV
- Hy-Vee unveils armed ‘retail security team’ amid theft surge – New York Post
- 2021 Retail Security Survey – National Retail Federation
- Organized Retail Thefts Continue Over Thanksgiving Weekend – The Wall Street Journal
- Baltimore grocery store security guard shoots and kills a man, wounds a woman after altercation, police say – The Baltimore Sun
- After Alvin Motley shooting, Kroger cuts ties with Allied Universal in the Memphis area – The Commercial Appeal
- Armed guard at Iowa City convenience store sends the wrong message – The Gazette