116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
West Des Moines-based retailer Hy-Vee is adding in its stores what the chain calls retail security officers who have been “specially trained to defuse situations and (are) equipped to protect the safety of both Hy-Vee customers and employees.”
Officers are already working in several stores, Hy-Vee said in a news release Wednesday, and more officers are going through its training program.
The training program was designed by Hy-Vee retail security personnel and law enforcement officials, the retailer said in the release.
“This program has been months in the making,” Tina Potthoff, Hy-Vee senior vice president, communications, wrote in an email to The Gazette.
Potthoff added the chain, with stores in eight states, has “not seen an overall year-to-year increase in incidents.
“However, we want to create a consistent look for our security team and approach to customer service and safety across all of our stores."
She added Hy-Vee officials believe it is the “first retailer in the country to implement an approach like this.”
In a video supplied by the chain, the officers wear uniforms identifying them as Hy-Vee security. The officers “will have the same tools that third-party security guards and off-duty law enforcement officers working in a security capacity in our stores already have,” Christina Gayman, Hy-Vee assistant vice president, communications, said in an email.
“Hy-Vee has a strong history of doing anything for our customers, and these officers will be held to that same standard,” Jeremy Gosch, Hy-Vee’s president and chief operating officer, said in the release.
“These officers will help provide another layer of safety and security for our customers, and will work alongside our store employees to deliver the same helpful smiles and outstanding service everyone expects at their local store.”
On Saturday, an Iowa City man was charged with first-degree arson following a fire near a Hy-Vee loading dock.
On Wednesday, a Cedar Rapids man was accused of stealing tools and lottery tickets from a Hy-Vee.
When confronted by Hy-Vee employees, the man produced a fixed-blade knife, backed out of the store and ran, according to the police complaint. He now faces two felony charges and a serious misdemeanor for theft.
Retail crime nationwide has seen an uptick in headlines in recent months.
In recent months, a number of stores — including Nordstrom, Canada Goose, Louis Vuitton, Home Depot and Walgreens — in large U.S. metro areas have been victims of smash-and-grab thefts by apparently organized mobs.