Consumer Alert: Retail crime bill aims to enhance worker and customer safety

Consumer Alert: Preventing Retail Crime

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — New York retail workers support a bill they say will not only keep them safe, but also the customers they serve.

What does the bill do?

The big mandate is the requirement that all retail workers be given violence prevention training just as all New York employees must get annual sexual harassment training. Retail workers want the same kind of training in how to respond to violence.

News10NBC’s Jennifer Lewke has extensively investigated retail crime and the efforts to fight it. But these criminals steal more than merchandise — they steal our sense of safety and security.

We not only pay for these crimes with our wallets when merchants raise prices to compensate for the theft, but we also pay by being painfully inconvenienced. The frustration of waiting for an associate to unlock a case so you can buy a $6 lipstick, the removal of self-checkout lanes at the grocery store.

However, a study by the National Institutes of Health revealed that when those retail crimes turn violent, customers are 31% more likely to be injured than employees. Retail workers argue this bill would benefit workers and customers alike.

“This bill says that workers need to be trained in de-escalation tactics and active shooter training. Employers need to have a violence prevention plan in the workplace that workers are trained in, and large employers with over 500 employees need to install or provide wearable panic buttons that go directly to the police,” said Josh Kellermann, Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union.

Deanna Dewberry, News10NBC Consumer Investigative Reporter, asked, “There will be large employers who will balk at the cost, the expense of providing all these panic buttons for all of these employees. What do you say to them?”

“Well, we had an assessment of the potential cost of panic buttons and one of these employees said $50 per employee per wearable device,” Kellermann responded.

He argues that many employers already provide their associates with hand-held smart devices and this will just be an app added to that device.

The bill has passed the Assembly and now sits in the Senate. The session is over at the end of this week, so they have just days to try to get this passed.

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