By: Jesse Davis West February 01, 2018

Organized retail crime (ORC) is rampant across the U.S. In fact, 94.6% of retailers report that they have been victims of ORC in the last 12 months, according to NRF data. And unfortunately, retail crime doesn’t merely cut into profits. All too often, retail criminals pose a serious safety risk to retail customers and employees. It only makes sense for retail loss prevention teams to work hand-in-hand with law enforcement to do everything in their power to deter ORC.  

Fortunately, retailers and law enforcement are already working together to radically reduce external shrink and, most importantly, safety risks. Here are three key ways that retailers and law enforcement are partnering: 

ORC Legislation 

State retail associations have worked with law enforcement and government to put ORC laws in place in 34 states. While these ORC laws have been effective, problems can arise when criminals cross state lines. Cross-jurisdiction makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies in two states work together if one of the states doesn’t have ORC laws in place. States with no ORC laws may simply not be able to allocate the resources needed to assist law enforcement in other states. According to the NRF, seven in 10 retailers now believe that federal ORC legislation is needed to solve this problem. Going forward, it’s reasonable to expect that law enforcement and retailers will continue to strengthen partnerships through additional state and maybe even federal legislation.  

Community Partnerships 

Police use sky towers to find potential organized retail criminals

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services helps “forge community partnerships” between local law enforcement agencies and retail businesses. This can include a wide range of efforts ranging from a holiday safety and theft prevention conference in Green Bay, Wis. to a full-on synchronized retail crime prevention effort in Monroe La. The effort included a “sky tower” that was deployed in a shopping center parking lot to provide officers with 360-degree cameras and spotlights from 25 feet above ground, and supplemented with patrol officers, uniformed officers on foot and plain clothes officers.  

These cooperation efforts have yielded positive results for local retail businesses. According to Kevin Holt, Captain at the El Dorado Ark Police Department, “We increased enforcement around the shopping areas downtown and any stores that were open late … to provide the same security there as we do for big stores.” 

Cooperation Through Facial Recognition 

Police officers often ask retailers to help them find wanted criminals. Law enforcement can use face recognition to provide retailers with high resolution images of potential criminals, rather than grainy photographs printed from surveillance footage. Retailers can then enter this data into their facial recognition system and get instant alerts when potentially dangerous individuals enter a store.  

Likewise, face recognition can alert retailers when wanted fugitives, missing children or victims of human trafficking enter a store, making it easy for retailers to notify law enforcement officials.  

While speaking to our customers, we’ve also found that real-time face recognition alerts have been proven to decrease the time it takes officers to respond to incidents. Face recognition is therefore an instrumental technology solution for building partnerships between retail stores and law enforcement agencies.