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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Target Shoplifter Charged; Security Guard Still Fired

In an update to my post from yesterday, on Monday night the Leesburg police charged the Fairfax deputy, who was caught on a high quality videotape, with shoplifting on two separate occasions in Target. According to Tom Jackman, reporting in yesterday's Washington Post, the alleged shoplifter, Robert H. Palmer, age 50, retired from the Fairfax Sheriff's Department on June 3. Both Target managers and employees, and the Leesburg police recognized him as somebody with whom they were personally familiar.

At the same time, the Target security officer who turned him in, Dallas Northington, was fired for allegedly failing to follow proper procedures and for insubordination.  But as Northington has maintained, in the eight years he has worked as a security officer, he has followed the same procedures as he did in the Palmer case numerous times.  The only difference this time is that Palmer was known to both the Target managers and the police department.  Northington's insubordination was not playing along with the cronyism of his superiors and the police department, all of whom wanted to cover up larceny.

Meanwhile, Northington is the father of two children and his wife is pregnant with their third child.  He was fired on June 3, the same day that Palmer put in his retirement papers with the Fairfax Sheriff's Department, which means the Sheriff cannot discipline Palmer for actions unbecoming a law enforcement officer.  Nor will it affect his pension.

Both Target and the Leesburg Police Department may have conspired to protect a thief, even going to the extreme of firing a conscientious employee for simply doing what he was hired to do. Indeed, this spot on Washington Post editorial captures the sordidness of the entire situation, where a major retail business dragged its feet for six weeks before filing charges against a an officer of the law who abused his authority by shoplifting, the police who dragged their feet to protect one of their own, and a retail giant firing its own employee to cover up its complicity in the whole sordid business.  Here's what the Washington Post had to say:

The Leesburg police have been aware of both incidents since May 27, when they saw the video footage of the incidents, in which the suspect’s face is clearly visible. According to Mr. Northington, a police sergeant who watched the video recognized the suspect, who lives in Leesburg. “This is pretty serious,” the sergeant said, according to Mr. Northington. 
Yes, it is. It’s serious if law enforcement personnel get a pass on criminal conduct. It’s serious if a major retailer retaliates against an employee for doing his job. And it’s serious when police turn a blind eye to larceny until a newspaper shames them to acting.
As of Wednesday, July 16, Dallas Northington is still unemployed and still has it on his employment record that he was fired for insubordination and not following proper procedure.  Although the shoplifter will face a court of law, justice will not be entirely done until the employee who blew the whistle on larceny is
 reinstated with a full apology from Target.  And I want to see that apology publicly.  Dallas Northington deserves to have his name cleared and his record expunged so he has an accurate employment record for the future and a job to support his growing family right now.

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