Retailers Commit to Working with Law Enforcement in Response to Terrorist
The safety of employees and customers is retailers’ top concern, said a National
Retail Federation (NRF) executive at a hearing Wednesday of the House Committee
on Homeland Security on the recent Al Shabaab attack at a Kenyan shopping mall.
“Retailers face many threats; yet through a mix of technology, partnerships,
preparation and training, retailers are able to ensure that they are able to
respond to any threat,” said NRF Vice President Richard Mellor. “Retailers are
committed to continuously improving their vigilance in order to stay ahead of
those who wish to do harm to their businesses, their employees and their
A former police officer with 40 years of experience in public safety, Mellor
told the committee Wednesday that “While shopping malls have been categorized by
some as ‘soft targets,’ it would have been hard to imagine or prepare for the
devastating attack conducted by terrorists at the Westgate shopping mall in
Kenya last month. Collaboration and partnership between retailers, and law
enforcement needs to remain strong and vigilant now more than ever.”
Echoing counterterrorism officials and authorities, Mellor said the Kenyan
shopping mall attack by the Somalia-based Al Qaeda affiliate illustrates the
potential terrorist threat to “soft targets” in the United States like shopping
malls, movie theaters and other large retail stores.
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
said. “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
NRF leads the retail industry’s partnership with law enforcement, working with
local, state and federal agencies on developing “active shooter” guidelines with
the Department of Homeland Security. The trade group also has developed
guidelines for responding to natural emergencies.
NRF has been advocating for congressional legislation to combat organized retail
crime, which the group said “has been linked to funding of criminal and
terrorist organizations overseas,” and is a federal crime.
The trade group is the world’s largest retail trade association
representing retailers of all types and sizes in the United States and more than
45 countries. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million establishments in the US
that support one in four US jobs -- 42 million working Americans – and
contributed $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, the association said.