The Washington State Senate Labor & Commerce Committee recently focused on the growing issue of organized retail crime (ORC) and its impact on public safety. Chaired by Senator Karen Keiser [D-33], the committee heard testimonies from key figures about efforts to combat this escalating problem.
Mark Johnson, WR’s Sr. VP of Policy & Government Affairs, highlighted the negative impact of ORC on Washington state businesses and public safety. He emphasized the need for effective strategies to mitigate these crimes.
The well-attended work session allowed WR to focus on the challenges facing retailers. WR is addressing these challenges with multi-pronged solutions, including:
- Education of policymakers, city leaders, and retailers
- Telling the stories of retailers’ experiences
- Supporting policies that allow police vehicle pursuits for property crimes and increasing penalties for multiple accomplices and repeat offenders
- Offering support materials, including WR’s Guide to Navigating Public Safety & Retail Crime resource guide
- Participating in the state’s ORC task force
- Supporting small retailer theft prevention grants
- Championing diversion programs for mental illness and substance addiction treatment
In response to Senator Kaiser’s request, the committee members received WR’s free resource, the “Guide to Navigating Public Safety & Retail Crime,” which offers insights and strategies for retailers to combat retail crime. The Guide is among numerous free resources WR makes available to all retailers.
The ORC Task Force is comprised of members from various law enforcement levels, loss prevention, retailers, and organizations like WR. The task force focuses on communication and collaboration across multiple jurisdictions. Their unit’s hard work recently led to its first criminal prosecution filing.
During the AG’s office presentation, it was announced that Assistant Attorney General Kent Liu had been selected as the leader of the new Organized Retail Crime Unit. Liu is a criminal prosecutor who has worked for the AGO for over 15 years.
WR is working closely with a coalition of stakeholders on solutions at all levels to help increase public safety, reduce retail theft, and thwart organized retail crime.
This issue will be considered when the Legislature convenes for a 60-day session on January 8, 2024.
Watch the hearing here. (Mark Johnson’s testimony begins at 18-minutes, 8-seconds.)