All we have in this Washington Post story are conflicting claims. Nothing has gone to court yet. Nothing has been adjudicated. But, in my opinion, the man who was fired from Target is telling what every single reader will acknowledge is a plausible story. So, whether or not it really happened, the fact that we live in a society that finds this story plausible tells us something about the society we live in. The spokeswoman for the Target store in Leesburg, Virginia claims that former loss prevention specialist, Dallas Northington, “had violated procedure by not filling out the proper paperwork before contacting the police.” Northington, who has worked in that position for eight years, says he operated exactly the same way as he had for years before in every other case—which the company had always found acceptable until now. Northington claims he was fired because he turned in a Sheriff’s deputy to the local police for shoplifting, after capturing video of him doing so on two different occasions. I have sons who work in retail now and they tell me about the free service that police officers get. The store owners want their premises to be safe. So, understandably, offering them free food is a way to encourage potential criminals, whether robbers or disorderly people, to move on to other locations. This is probably innocuous and the law enforcement officers have stellar character in the cases I know about, but it shades over into other kinds of special favors. Police have power and businesses want to make sure they get their full service (because if they were neglected by the police it would be almost impossible to prove or to fix) or, worse, avoid their harassment and persecution. Initially, Northington claimed that the police seemed to be dragging their feet.
But the man Northington said he and his supervisors identified as a deputy has not yet been charged with a crime though Northington said he had provided the man’s name and two color videos of him in action, his face clearly visible, to Leesburg police on May 27, the date of the second incident.
A Leesburg police spokesman said investigators were still trying to confirm the suspect’s identity. Northington said Leesburg police typically filed similar cases against shoplifters within a few days. He also said a Leesburg police sergeant investigating the case said while watching the surveillance video on May 27 that he recognized the man from a local gym where the two worked out. Store supervisors also knew the man, Northington said.
Since then, the police have announced that they will pursue charges. But, if Northington is right, then this took a lot longer than for those who are accused and who are not in law enforcement. Again, even if Northington is stretching the truth or outright lying, the only reason he can get away with it is because we all think that such behavior from a company would be unsurprising. We know law enforcement personnel have immense power and are often treated in an exceptional way by other law enforcement. This is not the kind of government that we are supposed to have.