Interesting article in the News-Press (Southwest Florida), talking about arming of clerks in convenience stores. At the end of the article a 7-11 representative advocates disarming clerks:
Chabris said 7-Eleven takes steps to reduce robberies. The stores can’t have more than $50 in the register during the day and $20 at night in their registers and make sure surveillance cameras are always on.
Clerks receive training on cooperating with robbers and memorizing details about a robbery so that they can better help police in an investigation.
Clerks’ fears may not be eased, but she said the policies have helped reduce the number of robberies that occur. Since no-weapons policies were put in place in the mid-1970s, Chabris said, robberies at 7-Eleven stores have dropped 65 percent.
65%!! That sounds great!! We should all disarm, yes? Well, not really. It turns out that robberies in general have dropped by 2/3 since the mid-70′s, so all 7-11 has done is keep up with crime trends. Here’s a graph that I lifted from the Bureau of Justice Statistics site:
I think the case for disarming employees is lacking.
UPDATE: A commenter who must remain anonymous on this subject points out via email that there are liability issues that would still inhibit companies from allowing employees to carry. This is undoubtedly true, but is beyond my competence to address. Perhaps someone with a legal background could take that point a bit farther, because it would certainly be nice if the choice ultimately fell to the employee.
But the point of this post is that 7-11′s self-congratulatory assessment of the effect of their policy on their robbery trends was ill-founded. A point I probably should have also made was that I can’t believe the reporter missed that point. The first question you ask when determining the efficacy of a policy is how the effects compare to the population in general. At least that’s the first question I asked.