In wake of FreshCo video, Saskatoon businesses to consult with police about how handle alleged shoplifting incidents
SASKATOON -- A video that surfaced earlier this month showing a grocery store security guard restraining a woman who allegedly shoplifted has prompted city business leaders to consult with the police about how to appropriatly address retail theft.
Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce CEO Jason Aebig told CTV News the city's business improvement districts and the chamber will meet with Saskatoon Police Serviced on May 12 to address ways retailers can intervene appropriately and avoid incidents like the one shown in the video.
“The meeting is to address ways that retailers can intervene appropriately when incidents like the one in the video occur," Aebig said.
The nine-minute-long clip, widely shared on social media, shows a prolonged scuffle between the guard and a woman outside the 33rd Street FreshCo location.
Aebig said the 1500-member strong chamber hopes to establish a set of guidelines for businesses to deal with incidents like the one caught on video so that everyone is protected and there are no injuries.
Joel Pedersen, who owns Security 2J2 in Saskatoon, says proper training in de-escalation is vital to minimize situations like the one that happened in the FreshCo parking lot.
Students at his facility train for 40 hours before they can work as a security guard, but as with most professions, he said a lot of the training happens over years on the job.
Pedersen said he doesn’t want people considering working as a security guard to be discouraged because with the correct training, situations don’t need to get to the level seen in the video.
“It is a situation that is highly volatile, emotionally charged so we want to make sure reactions are trained and that’s why training tactics and training are so important especially in public safety,” Pedersen told CTV News.
Pederson, who was a Saskatoon police officer for 25 years, says now that many incidents are captured on phones, it means that those who are hired to carry out public safety must ensure they are being professional at all times because they are held to account even more, something he doesn't consider to be a bad thing.
In an emailed statement sent after the incident, FreshCo, a discount grocery brand operated by Sobeys, said it had parted ways with the third-party security company the guard worked for.
The company said the guard's behaviour "is not tolerated or representative of our values."
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) has called on Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) to investigate and lay criminal charges against the security guard.
Michael Seed, legal counsel with FSIN, said the woman in the video, Annette Custer, was treated "unfairly, violently and inhumanely."
Last week, SPS said the investigation into the incident is ongoing and that if it is deemed necessary, a Crown prosecutor will be consulted.