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Diatribe: When Security Guards Use Tasers.

01/11/2014

SecurityGuardBadgeOnce upon a time I worked in an upscale department store.  During my years in the retail field I always thought it would be entertaining if someone were to write a television sitcom about the goings on behind the counters and in the break rooms of a department store like ours.  I thought it would be hilarious to see the interaction between the various characters working in the store and the nutty customers with their peculiar requests that drove them all bonkers.  It wasn’t until much later that I learned such a program already existed!  Are You Being Served?, a British sitcom broadcast by BBC1 from 1972 until 1985 was exactly what I had in mind.

One character that would have been featured more predominantly in my version would have been the security guard.  In the store where I worked, the security guard was frequently in disguise.  Dressed to fit in among the shoppers in the store and keeping an eye out for suspicious activity, the guard would often spend time pretending to shop for items near the store’s entrances.  During busy times, it had been determined, this was the place where shoplifters were most likely to grab a handful of merchandise and dash outside to a waiting car.  The guard’s responsibility was to witness the crime, obtain a description of the suspect and identify the vehicle in which he or she had fled.  Confronting the suspect was forbidden.  The guard was not, after all, a law enforcement official but an employee of the store.

Times have certainly changed.

Early Friday morning, a Walmart security guard in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, saw two men leaving with a cart filled with merchandise that, presumably, had not been paid for.  After the security guard tried to stop the men in the parking lot, one of them ran away while the other jumped into a car.  A scuffle ensued and the enthusiastic Walmart security guard proceeded to chase the car and, eventually, deploy a taser at the driver.

Security guards at Walmart carry tasers.

The driver of the car recovered and sped off with the security guard following in an alleged effort to get a license plate number.  Less than one mile from the store, the suspect crashed his vehicle and the security guard was able to break the driver’s side window and hold the man until officers arrived.

Local police were quick to point out that, while the guard is credited with capturing one of the suspects, he is not a police officer.

Back in the day, a security guard that crossed the line into law enforcement would have been immediately dismissed.  Not only were they not paid to be law enforcement officers, their employers generally didn’t carry sufficient liability insurance.  The suspect that the Walmart security guard detained was charged with aggravated assault.  The other has yet to be apprehended.  I wonder if the guard has been reprimanded or rewarded.

Times have certainly changed.  Do you think the tasing security guard should be rewarded or reprimanded?

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6 Comments
  1. The end result probably overshadows the fact he reached beyond his jurisdiction. If someone had been killed in chase, then it would be big problem. My daughter and I listen to “Morons in the News” on our local radio station. Apparently, in the third theft of the day for this woman, she sped away from a Home Depot in one of those motorized shopping carts. The problem is those carts go five miles an hour and the security guards were fast walking beside her to get her to stop. :>)

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  2. thedogs'mother permalink

    Once Eldest and another clerk chased a shop lifter out of a Safeway. While I’m glad he had the instinct to protect his employer also knew that was going to be a no-no.

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  3. No tasers! It’s not like Walmart carries expensive goods like Tiffany’s!

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    • Even if they did carry expensive merchandise, their security guards would still not be law enforcement officials and their “jurisdiction” should be limited to the property.

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  4. Reprimanded. Period. An innocent bystander could have been killed in the chase. There are waaaay too many cowboys in this country.

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