Officials Look At Ways To Protect Convenience Store Clerks

The number of injuries resulting from violent acts at convenience stores has more than doubled in the last two years

Koponen

Photo: Brandon Smith/IPBS

Tim Koponen presenting his findings Tuesday afternoon on increasing safety for convenience store clerks.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of injuries resulting from violent acts at convenience stores has more than doubled in the last two years for which data is available. The Indiana Department of Labor has put together a series of recommendations to remedy that.

The Department of Labor looked at information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, various studies and legislation in other states when compiling its recommendations.

Among the suggestions are installing safes where clerks can regularly drop money, reducing the amount of money available to steal and adding better lighting in parking lots and high definition video surveillance.

Department of Labor director Tim Koponen wrote the report. He says most big chain convenience stores are using these practices already.

The recommendations also include a greater degree of improvements for high-risk stores, locations that have been robbed twice within one year. Koponen says the Department of Labor will work with the state excise police and the lottery association to spread the recommendations to as many locations as possible.

However, even after Tuesday’s hearing, some victims’ family members aren’t satisfied.

Perry Tole’s sister-in-law was an Indianapolis Village Pantry clerk shot and killed in a robbery last year. Tole attended Tuesday’s meeting where the Department of Labor laid out several recommendations for safety improvements, including high definition video cameras, better parking lot lighting and training for managers and employees.

But the Department of Labor cannot mandate any actual changes…and that doesn’t sit well with Tole.

“Employees will be at work tonight facing the same dangers and there is nothing conclusive to say they are being protected at any given time in the near future,” he says.

Labor Department Commissioner Lori Torres says she can’t say whether the state needs a mandate…but she knows her department can’t create it.

“It may, it may not be necessary,” she says. “I understand your perspective that it is. And to the extent that it becomes a mandate, it’s going to have to come from the General Assembly.”

Indianapolis Democratic Representative Ed DeLaney has indicated he will file legislation dealing with this issue next session.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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