California lawmakers revive bill aimed at protecting businesses, employees from smash-and-grab robberies

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Friday, September 8, 2023 9:47PM

Lawmakers revive bill to protecting businesses from smash-and-grabs

California lawmakers have revived a stall bill aimed at protecting businesses and employees from smash-and-grab robberies.

“What we are saying with this bill is: My God, we don’t even have the basic protocols in place for violence that we have for earthquakes and fires,” said state Sen. Dave Cortese, who authored Senate Bill 553.

The proposed legislation would require all businesses create plans and provide extensive training to deal with any workforce violence. The bill came about after a mass shooting in 2021 at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority that left nine people dead.

“An active shooter that certainly could’ve been apprehended pretty quickly if the SWAT team could’ve just gotten inside the door, but there was no plan for that,” said Cortese.

Detailed plans would prepare workers for different types of workplace violence, like smash-and-grab robberies. There was controversy, however, over an earlier version of the bill that would not have allowed businesses or even security guards to confront any robbers. That part of the bill has been eliminated.

“We actually went back into the bill and took out any references to the word ‘shoplifting’ and ‘retail’ at all,” said Cortese.

According to Robert Moutrie from the California Chamber of Commerce, “A prior version of SB 553 made it difficult to even speak to suspected shoplifters, and that was something that retailers thought they had to be able to do. At minimum, someone has to check your receipt. Someone has to be a security guard in the store.”

Now that the proposal has been modified, the California Chamber of Commerce is neutral on the bill but says that with detailed records of all incidents and more training, it could still have a financial impact on small businesses.

“There are certainly going to be costs here for California businesses in complying with SB 553. Setting up a workplace violence prevention plan, getting training done, keeping records — those are still costs,” said Moutrie.

The bill now moves to the Assembly. If it passes and is signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, it would become law on July 1 of 2024.

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