Armed Robbery! It’s OK…Just Training

Sep 15, 2009
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Armed robberies have become a common and disturbing fact of
life for many working behind pharmacy counters. With that dismal reality
in mind, it makes sense companies would take steps to prepare workers for
the possibility that someone brandishing a weapon may one day walk in and
demand narcotics from the pharmacy’s stock.

That appears to be the reasoning behind an exercise conducted
in 2007 at the Hampton Behavioral Health Center in New Jersey. The training
session in question involved a masked gunman bursting into the store claiming
to have one of the pharmacy’s workers as a hostage and demanding that a tech
give him Oxycontin, according to The Philadelphia

What the pharmacy tech, Babette Perry, claims she didn’t know
at the time was the gunman was an employee of the company acting out a robbery

Following the event, Ms. Perry learned from the the person believed
to have been taken hostage, the human resources director at the company,
that everything was staged as part of a safety drill designed by Hampton
and its parent company Universal Health Services.

Ms. Perry has recently filed a suit against her employer and
Universal claiming she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Ms. Perry
believed that the gunman was capable of shooting her or holding her hostage,” according
to the lawsuit, filed last month. The suit claims that Ms. Perry was never
informed she would have to take part in the drill as part of her employment
and was not trained in how to properly handle such a scenario.

United Health
Services declined comment.

Questions: Is the type of drill described in this story useful in helping store
employees deal with armed robbers? Are there better ways
to train workers to deal with these types of situations?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

9 Comments on "Armed Robbery! It’s OK…Just Training"

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
David Zahn
11 years 7 months ago

This type of scenario is not helpful and puts people at risk. Training must first educate, model, demonstrate, and explain before simulating (EVEN if we were to simulate a robbery, which certainly should not even be considered if the other steps have not been taken.).

This could have invited injury, a violent reaction, or putting employees and/or shoppers in a situation that was so highly stressful that it poses a health risk. While it makes sense to train people on how to prepare, respond, act when confronted with an armed robber (or other situations, including a shoplifter or an enraged shopper, etc.) this is not on par with a mystery shopper scenario.

Poor marks all around for management, the supplier of this training, and the HR person who thought this was a “good idea.”

Doron Levy
Doron Levy
11 years 7 months ago

I can’t believe I’m reading this. This retailer should be punished punitively to the end of the earth. The whole point of drills is to execute procedures during stressful situations. How can this unfortunate tech know what to do if she hasn’t been trained? And how can they expect her to handle pressure under fire without having gone through a dry run? Unbelievable!

Warren Thayer
11 years 7 months ago

Hard to believe that something so dumb actually happened. What possible good could it have done, especially with no training ahead of time? And the downsides are obvious. I’m a big believer in training for such things, but this seems more like voyeuristic sadism than training.

Robert Immel
Robert Immel
11 years 7 months ago

I heard about this on the radio yesterday. An awful idea. How about just putting an actor on an airliner, posing as a terrorist, to see if the flight crew responds as trained?

Cathy Hotka
11 years 7 months ago

Wow. Talk about a way to alienate employees. And imagine being on the receiving end of an exercise like this if you’re pulling down only $9 per hour.

A much better idea is training materials that address the real possibility of armed robbery. When my husband was 16 and working in a Midwest grocery store, an assailant entered, put a gun to his head, and told him to lie on the floor. Management should make their policies clear from the start.

Craig Sundstrom
11 years 7 months ago

On the way to work this morning I was listening to Dierks Bentley’s “What was I thinking?”…the song is quite entertaining, but it seems real-life demonstrations of this concept are much less so; perhaps the higher-up lunkheads who approved this idea–assuming, of course, it happened as described–could be treated to a similar drill: “you’re fired! Just kidding…NOT!”

Ralph Jacobson
11 years 7 months ago

Violent agreement with the comments so far. Huge risks involved with the way the company pulled this “training” off. My days at a major national grocer in Chicago taught me to avoid being any kind of an obstacle to robbery attempts. Let them get the cash & goods, try to identify distinguishing characteristics to describe to police and get out of their way. That grocer stated clearly that they would not support you if you tried to thwart the robbery.

Ed Dennis
Ed Dennis
11 years 7 months ago

OK, you are in Texas and pull a stunt like this. Your “actor” would have been shot dead in the store by a customer. Now what do you do? You turn over your entire operation to the family of the actor that you put in harm’s way, who took you to court and sued you for every asset you had. Whoever cooked up this harebrained “exercise” needs to be terminated as well as everyone who knowingly participated. This is stupid, stupid, stupid!

Curtis Baillie
Curtis Baillie
5 years 7 months ago

I was the security expert witness for the plaintiff is this case. I gave deposition testimony and was about to appear on the witness stand in the trial, but the case was settled before I could testify.

This is one of the most egregious cases I have been involved in. There are established guidelines/procedures for conducting “Mock Security” drills and this company followed none of them.

I know I’m very late with this comment, but I just saw this.


Take Our Instant Poll

How effective are unannounced mock holdups in preparing pharmacy workers for the real thing?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...