Can Retailers Take a Proactive Approach to Prevent Mass Shootings?

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Anytime tragedies the nature of this weekend’s mass shootings at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas and at bars in Dayton, Ohio occur, a reassessment of safety needs to take place. But where is the logical starting point?

Each shooting tragedy has its own unique set of circumstances that lead to its origin and its end, but can businesses play a larger role in ensuring customer safety, and if so, to what extent?

Dr. Alex del Carmen, Executive Director and Professor at the School of Criminology, Criminal Justice and Strategic Studies at Tarleton State University has spent his career examining public safety protocol.

“There has to be a line between the extreme and what is expected by the community,” del Carmen said.

While it can be difficult to stop something as daunting as a mass shooter, del Carmen says there are actionable items retailers and restaurants can do to increase customer safety. These include increasing lighting, limiting points of entry and adding security detail.

Crime prevention strategy is not always top of mind for retailers, and cost-effectiveness certainly plays a role in this, but del Carmen says stores have the tools to be more proactive than reactive.

“Technology has been used, but it’s mostly reactive. For instance, people say ‘I’ve got cameras’. Well that’s great but you’re going to have a video or still shot of the guy who killed a whole bunch of people. But what use is that except to tell the story the day after,” del Carmen explained. “There needs to be a monitory component to those cameras.”

Time will tell if the lessons from these incidents are learned, and if those teachings are put into action.

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