Security, or Loss Prevention, or whatever they call themselves these days, is not your friend! If Security has summoned you for an interview, you can bet that they do not intend to compliment you on your work. More likely, they intend on getting dirt on a fellow employee, or worse, on you.
Their methods have not changed a lick in the 18 years I have dealt with them, but for some reason, they remain effective. They tell you everything is okay. They try to be friendly with you and earn your confidence. Then they try to get you to admit to something, anything. Whether it happened yesterday or ten years ago, they don’t care. Just admit to something. If that doesn't work, then they often get tough with you, trying to intimidate you into admitting something. The phrase “good cop, bad cop” comes to mind as one of their methods, but to use the word cop in any description of security people is an insult to police everywhere. Often they are wannabe cops that can’t make it in any legitimate law enforcement agency. But one will act as though he is your friend while the other berates you. If they still can’t get you to admit to something, they magically come up with a witness that saw you do something. Or, the tactic du jour, they have you on videotape doing something. Of course, they never tell you who witnessed your actions or show you a videotape of your actions. They usually have neither. They tell you, “Look, just say you took this thing and everything will be okay.” They don’t tell you that it will be okay for the company, but you’re going to be fired. Or they will say, “We will call the police and have you arrested if you don’t admit to this.” If they had something on you with which to call the police, they would not need you to admit to it.
Often, however, they scare or coerce people into admitting something. Once you admit to something, they now have the door open and work on you harder to get you to admit to more. If you admit to something, they have you write out a confession. Once that happens, little can be done to help you.
You may ask, “Doesn't the company have a right to protect their interests?” The answer is a definite yes. If you steal, the Union doesn’t want you there anymore than the company does. You make our other members look bad. If you are a thief, then save everyone some time and get out of the business now. The problem with the security people comes from their mindset. As far as they are concerned, you are guilty of something, they just have to find it. It insults the majority of our members who just want to work and earn a living.
What can you do to protect yourself from these interviews? The most important thing to remember is this: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SPEAK WITH SECURITY PERSONNEL WITHOUT A UNION REPRESENTATIVE! Do you always need a Union Representative? Most of the time, if security is involved, the answer is yes. But to find out, ask the security person why they have brought you into this interview. Don’t let them avoid giving you an answer. If you are unhappy with the answer they give you, or they tell you it has to do with your job, tell them that you refuse to answer any questions until you have union representation. Then stay silent. If it has to do with another employee, you can tell them what you know. But if the direction of the interview turns towards you and starts to sound like an interrogation, ask for union representation.
Many members believe they should answer the questions or else they will be suspended or terminated from their jobs. If security has brought you into a meeting about something they suspect you of doing, you probably won’t leave that room without a suspension whether you talk to them or not. Other members believe they have nothing to fear. They have been around the block a couple of times and can handle themselves. I can’t tell you how many of these people I have had to represent after the fact. Don’t take the chance! Your Union Representatives are trained to deal with these situations. Avail yourself of their experience.