Screen capture by Boch. Via USA Today.

HyVee, a large midwest regional grocery chain, has gone public with plans to stock more than just great produce and outstanding quality meats in their stores in 2022. They also plan to add armed, uniformed security. Five or ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable to see armed security in grocery stores outside of high crime areas in large cities.

But times have changed since the widespread rioting in 2020 and the spike in violent crime that continued through 2021.

At the same time, plenty of Americans will no doubt do a double-take when they see armed security walking the aisles of their neighborhood HyVee.

Screen capture by Boch via USA Today.

The good folks at HyVee acknowledge that the program is more about visual deterrence to theft and violence than actually protecting the store’s assets and customers from violent crime.  Nevertheless, it serves as yet another vivid and in-your-face reminder of the increasing violence found in American cities.

USA Today has the story:

Hy-Vee’s helpful smiles in every aisle will now also include those from Hy-Vee-trained, potentially armed security guards. 

The West Des Moines-based grocery store chain announced in a statement that it was creating a retail security team to have security officers trained by the company in its stores throughout 2022.

Hy-Vee already placed several officers at locations, Hy-Vee spokesperson Christina Gayman said Wednesday. In a video the company released along with the statement, security officers appear to be armed with guns, pepper spray, tasers, handcuffs and body cameras. 

Asked if the new Hy-Vee guards will have guns or the other equipment that appeared in the video, Gayman said only that security officers will have “the same tools that third-party security guards and off-duty law enforcement officers working in a security capacity in our stores already have.”

There’s even a video . . .

We all know unarmed security draws little to no respect from many folks, especially the professional criminal class. Obviously dressing their private security guards in uniforms that look a lot like police uniforms is intended to command some respect. At the same time, HyVee is subtly trying to soften the image by featuring a couple of women security officers in their promo video to USA Today.

Screen capture by Boch via USA Today.

There’s a HyVee where I live that I frequent. While I thought we lived in a bucolic central Illinois community prior to 2020, the riots that happened here in Bloomington-Normal quickly disabused me of that notion.

Since then, I’ve seen a disorderly drunk in handcuffs knock two of three cops escorting him out of a store to the ground and seen people accosted in parking lots. So maybe some extra armed security is potentially a big plus. While HyVee’s prices already tend to keep away most of the riff-raff, having an armed presence might further drive ne’er-do-wells to “shop” at other stores – places without overt security.

At the same time, like many, I suppose it will take some getting used to, seeing uniformed, armed security in my midst as I’m grabbing some apples and milk.

 



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