The recent terrorist attack at a Kenyan shopping mall highlights the need for retailers to work with law enforcement to ensure the safety of both employees and customers here in the United States.
At a recent hearing in front of the House Committee on Homeland Security, National Retail Federation (NRF) Vice President Richard Mellor addressed those concerns and the association’s commitment to respond to those threats.
Mellor, who is a former police officer, has been working in the area of public safety for forty years. He categorized shopping malls and other retail establishments as “soft targets” and testified that no one would have predicted or have been prepared for an attack such as the devastating one that took place at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last month.
That attack, carried out by Somalia’s militant group Al Shabaab, lasted three days, killing 72 people and injuring over 200 more. Part of the mall collapsed from a huge fire that was caused by fierce gun battles between the terrorists and security forces.
Mellor stated in this testimony that NRF is constantly working with law enforcement, as well as other local, state and federal agencies on developing active shooter responses that fall within the Department of Homeland Security guidelines.
“Retailers have sophisticated protocols to deal with the threats from a wide range of situations, including organized retail crime (ORC) activities, robbery, active shooter incidents, impacts from natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornadoes as well as being a potential target for a terrorist attack,” Mellor testified. “Because these threats are always present, retailers invest heavily to ensure that they are prepared to deal with any and all threats against their businesses, their employees and their customers. Moreover, retailers are consistently evaluating the effectiveness of their programs and seeking improvements. As criminals and threats become more sophisticated, so do retailers.”
Emergency Film Group’s Handling Emergencies DVD teaches professional security officers and other personnel how to respond to incidents, including workplace violence, in the facilities that they protect. Our Countering Terrorism DVD helps prepare security personnel in the event of a terrorist attack affecting their facility. Both are part of the Professional Security Officer Series.