Three members of the law enforcement and retail loss prevention community will be honored this week during the National Retail Federation’s NRF PROTECT conference in Washington. The founder of The Loss Prevention Foundation will receive the industry’s top award on Tuesday while a New York Police Department lieutenant who launched the New York Metro Organized Retail Crime Alliance and an FBI agent responsible for breaking a multi-state crime ring will be recognized on Wednesday.
“Each one of these honorees has supported the loss prevention community by protecting retailers and their customers and sharing their skills and experience to help develop highly proficient loss prevention professionals,” NRF Vice President for Loss Prevention Bob Moraca said. “Their significant contributions continue to create great impact in the community and deserve to be recognized by these prestigious awards.”
Ring of Excellence Award
This award recognizes pioneers in the retail LP community whose “honor, integrity and character serve as an example for the industry.”
This year’s recipient is Gene Smith, founder of the Loss Prevention Foundation and former president of Downing & Downing, a human resources firm specializing in LP staff development, in recognition of his more than 40 years of experience and his work to develop the industry’s Loss Prevention Qualified and Loss Prevention Certified designations. Smith has provided career counseling to countless LP professionals, university curriculum committees and industry trade association committees.
During Smith’s time at Downing & Downing, he conducted assessment interviews and career counseling with thousands of industry associates and performed industry organizational and consulting reviews designed to maximize resources and deliver value. Smith is recognized as an industry leader and expert on talent assessment and acquisition.
Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Award
This award acknowledges law enforcement officers or agencies that have gone “above and beyond the call of duty” to support the retail industry in combating fraud, protecting assets and reducing losses.
This year’s award will be presented to NYPD Lt. Tarik Sheppard for his efforts to create the New York Metro Organized Retail Crime Alliance in 2014 while head of the Grand Larceny Analytical unit. The unit works to identify pattern crimes and pattern crime offenders, and Sheppard recognized the extent of organized crime in retail thefts while working there.
Loss Prevention Case of the Year Award
This award recognizes investigators whose work has made a significant impact on their companies, communities and the industry.
This year’s recipient is FBI Special Agent Kevin Kohler, who uncovered a multi-state crime ring that placed fraudulent bar codes on high-value products, intentionally lowering prices and inflicting losses exceeding $200,000. Kohler played an integral role in the investigation by securing crucial evidence, and in a matter of two months was able to arrest the head of the group. Going beyond the retail fraud that initiated the case, the investigation also led to charges of child pornography and sexual exploitation of minors, resulting in the rescue of several children from a predator. The ringleader was sentenced to 70 years in prison without parole.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6T to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.