Corporate Responsibility for Safety

Written by Angel Darkenna

(This was origianlly posted by Angel Darkenna on Facebook and reposted here with permission)


I have seen these comments, or ones like them, over and over again this week:"Bear knew he broke the rules and even tho I agree with him you can't have armed people in the workplace."


"Unfortunately, I do not agree with protesting a company policy in which someone knowingly violated it."


That... isn't the point.  That isn't the point of all this activity, protests, discussion, and media attention at all.  Nor is this about infringing the Second Amendment (I've seen a lot of those comments, too).This is about corporate responsibility.  If a company prevents its employees from being able to defend themselves from an attacker, then the company assumes responsibility for that employee's safety, especially in an environment such as a convenience store overnight, which is inherently one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.


Bear Cothran was carrying a sidearm in the early morning hours of Monday 10/14 because he felt insecure and unsafe at work, and if you watch the video of the event you can clearly see why: an armed robber was able to enter the store, come around the counter, and threaten him with a 10" blade at a distance of under 3' all in a matter of seconds. From how the robber is holding the blade and his statements to Bear ("Give me all the money or I will kill you"), Bear believed that the man was going to stab him whether or not he gave the money over. He pulled his weapon and defended himself appropriately, and the incident ended without injury.The big problem is that the robber was able to obtain access to the clerk so readily and the clerk had no where to go and no way to protect himself. If a company does not allow its employees to defend themselves with either lethal or non-lethal means, then the company has the obligation to make the environment safer in some way. There are many, many ways to do this. Most Hess stations, for instance, go to a "lockdown" procedure when there is only one employee on: they lock the doors and all transactions are done through a slide-box that goes under a thick piece of lexan glass. Dunkin Brands (which operates hundreds of Dunkin Donuts stores throughout the northeast) remotely monitors all of its 24-hr locations remotely from a huge command center in Canton, MA. Live monitoring. Which means when a robbery occurs, the command center is seeing it as it happens, and calls for help when its employee cannot. Exxon-Mobil, when a station goes to 24-hour service, remodels the service counter so that it has 2 exits at opposite ends, each of which is near a door off the sales floor, so that an employee can always flee when threatened. McDonald's issues panic-button necklaces and belt boxes to its overnight employees, which automatically summon the local police when activated.Nouria Energy, which owns nearly all the Shell and Lil Mart stations in northern New England (more than 120 stores, nearly all 24-hour operations)... does nothing.In fact, their entire policy and procedure on robbery prevention is a single small paragraph in the employee handbook: in the event of a robbery, give the robber what they want, and once they have left, lock the store and call for help.THIS is what the protest is over what all the media is over, why all these people are crying "foul!". Not Bear carrying, nor his losing his job for it, but the lack of responsibility that his employer took to ensure his safety. Especially in light of the fact that there have been more than 15 armed robberies on the late night shift in the Nashua area since July, several of which ended with the robber intentionally wounding the clerk in order to slow down police response time. Remember, there are more than 100 Nouria employees tonight that are all alone in their stores, who are not allowed to defend themselves and are at the mercy of anyone who walks in the door.The outcry is over bad corporate policy and lack of responsibility. Nothing else.


"Angel Darkenna" is the Facebook identity of a loss prevention and security consultant with more than 15 years of industry experience.  Questions and comments may be directed to him there.  He is located in southern NH and is always taking on new clients.  The preceding editorial is comprised of his professional opinion and observations, and not to be taken as the policies and procedures of any company mentioned therein.  (c) 2013.