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Stop a purse snatching, lose your job....
Old 07-28-2009, 11:11 AM   #1
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Stop a purse snatching, lose your job....

Randalls employee fired for chasing theft suspect

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It cost him his job at a Round Rock Randalls, but Troy Schafer, who was fired last week after chasing a purse snatcher out of the grocery store, said he didn't have much choice.

...

"We got (Welch) her purse back, all of her money, everything," Schafer said. "Then, the next day, my loss prevention unit from Randalls came in and said I was suspended without pay."

A few days later, Schafer said, he was fired.

Randalls spokeswoman Connie Yates said on Monday that, like all employees, Schafer had been trained not to pursue suspects in situations like the purse snatching. Instead, employees are told to focus on getting information for law enforcement officials.
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Old 07-28-2009, 11:21 AM   #2
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It would have been a different story if it went like:


It cost him his life. Troy Schafer was just trying to do the right thing, but his life came to an abrupt end when a purse snatcher he was chasing turned around and shot him 4 times at close range. He leaves a wife and 20 year old son.



That is why they say not to run after them.....
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Old 07-28-2009, 11:25 AM   #3
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That is why they say not to run after them.....
There is a good reason for the policy, yes. But I also think policies like this need to be enforced by allowing consideration of the circumstances. It seems like this is grounds for automatic termination -- no allowance for considering the mitigating circumstances is allowed.

If the thief made off with, say, a 12-pack of Bud, it would make more sense to enforce this policy aggressively. But when someone acts in a way to protect your customers rather than just a small amount of your merchandise, termination seems a bit harsh...
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Old 07-28-2009, 12:38 PM   #4
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I suppose it is important for Randalls to have a policy like this (so they don't get sued), but once the employee is off their property, I think they are off the hook. Schafer took a chance (the guy could have shot him), and decided that the risk/benefit was worth it. He shouldn't have had to include the "risk" (or certainty) of also losing his job.

He shoud have been reprimanded, docked pay for the time he was away from his job searching for the punk, and that was it.

Fear of liability/litigation is making society safer--for criminals.
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Old 07-28-2009, 12:47 PM   #5
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[quote=samclem;839451]I suppose it is important for Randalls to have a policy like this (so they don't get sued), but once the employee is off their property, I think they are off the hook....quote]

I would bet a lawyer would not agree if he were killed OR he accidently killed the 15 yo perp... Randalls is the deep pocket here and they are the ones who would get sued...
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Old 07-28-2009, 12:49 PM   #6
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It's a CYA thing. Randalls (Safeway) wants to be able to remove themselves from any lawsuits if something goes wrong when one of their employees tries to stop a thief. They can point to their policy manual; and the employee's signature acknowledging receipt, training and understanding of the policies, to claim the employee was acting outside of his duties and their policies.

My former employer used to do this all the time. Every training class had a lesson plan that is kept on file forever, and every employee signs in on a roster which is also kept on file forever. The first thing the city does when it gets sued is to compare actions to policy & training, and if they see a way to claim "that isn't what we taught him", they will do it in a second.

And if you're going to use that defense as an employer you have to enforce the policy with discipline whenever a violation comes to your attention.

Unless he had some kind of history of similar infractions I think that firing the dude was excessive.
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Old 07-28-2009, 12:53 PM   #7
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Fear of liability/litigation is making society safer--for criminals.
I rather suspect this policy is a reaction to an overly litigious society, yes. I think fear of being sued is turning us into a bunch of spineless wusses, but that's another discussion for another time and place.

And from a legal/HR standpoint (even if not a morally correct one), a "no exceptions" policy that doesn't acknowledge extenuating circumstances is probably easier to enforce and protect yourself from wrongful termination lawsuits. Unfortunately it also prevents the introduction of common sense.

But in this case, it's one thing for the store to tell its people not to pursue a thief if the store is being victimized by a thief. That's a decision they should be able to make for themselves and their property, and one I would agree they have a moral right to make. It's quite another to feel empowered to make that decision for your customers.
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Old 07-28-2009, 12:57 PM   #8
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He will be rehired following adverse nationwide publicity for the store, and will be invited to have a beer with the president.
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Old 07-28-2009, 01:16 PM   #9
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He will be rehired following adverse nationwide publicity for the store, and will be invited to have a beer with the president.
.... after a press conference denouncing the store for "acting stupidly".
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Old 07-28-2009, 01:27 PM   #10
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... and will be invited to have a beer with the president.
This is like an updated version of that old "15 minutes of fame"

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Old 07-28-2009, 01:34 PM   #11
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All I can say is that if I was a thief, I would read this and conclude,

"Hey dude! I can rob Randall's and their customers blind and I'm outta there free and clear! Their employees CAN'T stop me even if they want to! Cool!!"
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Old 07-28-2009, 01:37 PM   #12
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All I can say is that if I was a thief, I would read this and conclude,

"Hey dude! I can rob Randall's and their customers blind and I'm outta there free and clear! Their employees CAN'T stop me even if they want to! Cool!!"
my sentiments exactly....
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Old 07-28-2009, 01:37 PM   #13
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All I can say is that if I was a thief, I would read this and conclude,

"Hey dude! I can rob Randall's and their customers blind and I'm outta there free and clear! Their employees CAN'T stop me even if they want to! Cool!!"
Here's what I don't get. This is obviously something concocted by HR and Legal to avoid lawsuits if a "heroic intervention" goes wrong and someone is injured or killed.

But what if a customer is being attacked in a store -- and there are employees nearby who refuse to help citing company policy? What if it resulted in a robbery or serious injury to the victim, or a sexual assault? Think that customer may sue, citing company policy as the reason the victimization was allowed to continue? That the reason the assault was completed is because employees couldn't help for fear of being fired?
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Old 07-28-2009, 02:23 PM   #14
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I've never heard of a legal obligation for anyone to directly involve themselves in crime intervention. There is a requirement to report a crime to the police, but even that is not in all jurisdictions or for all crime.

A decent human being will take action to protect another person from death or serious bodily injury, but the second you start to directly intervene the odds of incurring liability skyrocket.

A customer assaulted on a company's premises would have a decent case if he/she could prove that the company was aware of a crime problem and had not taken any action to guard against that risk.
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Old 07-28-2009, 03:27 PM   #15
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I know an off-duty Firefighter that intervened in a crime situation in his neighborhood.

He went behind the dumpster and grabbed the law breaker and twisted his arm behind his back and marched him to the police.

He was sued in civil court by the person he helped arrest.

I don't know how it all turned out except his employer (Big City) finally provided a lawyer for him.

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Old 07-28-2009, 03:57 PM   #16
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Old 07-28-2009, 04:22 PM   #17
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Except for the outcome... this is similar to what happened about 30 years ago to someone in my apartment building...

I heard the yelling etc... and saw the guy running... and this guy giving chase... around the corner... and then I heard gunshots... I decided to stay indoors until I knew who was shooting and who was being shot at...

The guy who got robbed was running back around the corner....... but was not hit... I asked him about it and he said the guy pulled out a gun... the guy said "I tried to get REAL skinny"...

I am fortunate to have never been in this situation.... most people would do what this guy did... run after the crook...
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Old 07-28-2009, 05:54 PM   #18
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All this reminded me of a funny incident in which an employee dealt with a couple of violent thieves.

When I first started working there was a convenience store that we liked to hang out at because they were "police friendly", which meant free sodas and cigarettes in payment for hanging out occasionally. A Korean family took over management and the night shift guy, who was pretty meek and mild mannered, was uber police friendly. He was a cousin of the owner and had just come to the US, so his English, and demeanor, were different. One thing we noticed right away was his generosity. You had to practically fight off the free goodies he gave away, always saying "You stay. Stay and drink soda, read magazines, stay for long time."

Once, when I wanted to buy one of the little 99 cent bags of popped-in-store popcorn, he insisted on popping a new batch and filling up a full sized grocery bag for us. We drove around for three nights eating popcorn before we got tired of it. Try to buy a pack of smokes and he would push a carton on you.

He got to the point where he would lock the doors if no cops were around. After 1 A.M. the place was either a mini-substation or locked up and the lights dimmed. No police, no business was the guy's motto.

It was a little strange, but we chalked it up to the fact that it wasn't the greatest neighborhood the guy was a bit of a wus who was afraid of some of the local nightlife.

One night I noticed a stack of fliers for a Taekwondo school opening nearby. As I was reading the flier the night shift guy said I could get a discount. Intrigued, I asked him if he knew the people that owned the business. "I own" was his reply. He could see I was a little skeptical, so he took me over to the magazine rack and grabbed the latest edition of a martial arts magazine, and there he was. Turned out that he was some kind of Taekwondo legend, even had been on the Johnny Carson show a couple of times and had the pictures to prove it.

Still, I was skeptical until there was an incident one night at the store when no cops were hanging out. Another officer showed up and found the doors locked (which wasn't unusual), but he saw blood on the floor and the interior of the place looked like some rhinos had a drunken brawl in there. Blood splatters led away from the front door to the street. The officer started calling for backup and began beating on the door to see if anybody would respond. Our friend showed up holding a mop he had been using to clean up the blood.

It wasn't his blood.

It was one of the few occasions in which he was actually open for business without the police hanging out. Two of the locals had wandered in to make an early morning beer run - well past legal sales time. When the clerk objected to the purchase, they scoffed. When he insisted, they said "and we ain't even going to pay, and if you try and stop us we gonna mess you up!" Our mild mannered friend then told them to just leave without hurting him, and they took that as a cue to go further. As they came across the counter to open the register, he had the phone receiver up to his ear (one of those old heavy telephones) to call the cops. When one of the beer thieves cum robbers decided he would "kick some chinaman ass", the clerk used the phone on him. It was smashed to pieces when he was done. When the other dude came to his buddy's defense, the clerk used some of that serious Korean whupass on both of them.

There wasn't a mark on the man.

We found one of the guys right away. The one who had the telephone conversation was wandering down the street and another unit almost ran him over. Both eyes were swollen shut and he was in the middle of the road with his arms out trying to feel his way to someplace where there weren't any Koreans. His head had more lumps on it than you'll find in a sack of potatoes.

It took the better part of an hour to get him to stop blubbering enough to understand what he was saying.

The other dude showed up later at the county hospital. The list of broken bones was impressive.

It was like something out of the old Kung Fu television show. They had a philosophy on how to always win a fight - don't be there when one breaks out.

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Old 07-28-2009, 06:49 PM   #19
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Or, one with a good ending: Edmonton Eskimo player nabs purse snatcher
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Old 07-28-2009, 09:51 PM   #20
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I hope this guy gets a great job. I like to think there are heroes out there....in all walks of life.
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