NEW YORK — Encouraged by Thursday’s meeting with New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton, Rev. Al Sharpton and other civic leaders about racial profiling in stores, representatives from Barneys New York and Macy’s said they plan to continue the discussions.
This story first appeared in the April 7, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
With the exception of the police commissioner, the attendees will reconvene in about 10 days to continue to address the issue. After that meeting takes place, they plan to sit down with Bratton and other police officials, but a date has not been set, according to Sharpton.
Thursday’s hourlong discussion was held in the wake of reports of stop-and-frisk incidents at Barneys New York and Macy’s last year.
Asked for comment Friday, a spokeswoman for the NYPD reiterated the procedure that was put in place last fall. In late October 2013, Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis noted that the “NYPD instituted a policy specifically pertaining to the issue of retail store security calls to the police in connection with suspicious activities relating to suspected shoplifting. The policy established response protocols for NYPD officers to such calls, requiring that store security personnel call 911 for police response to these types of requests for assistance.”
A Barneys spokeswoman said, “We thank Commissioner Bratton, Reverend Sharpton and all other participants for a candid and productive discussion. Barneys New York remains committed to treating everyone who comes into our stores with respect and dignity and looks forward to continuing the dialogue.”
A Macy’s spokeswoman said Friday, “As part of an ongoing dialogue that began in late 2013, Macy’s along with other members of the Retail Council of the State of New York and community leaders met this afternoon with Commissioner Bill Bratton. The discussions were productive as we all continue working together, in good faith, to maintain a safe and respectful shopping environment for all customers.”
Reached by phone, Sharpton described Friday’s meeting as “a good discussion, very candid and straightforward.”
Bratton’s reinforcement of the need for store officials to call 911 if they see any suspicious activity is essential. “Now we will know who in the store called the police,” Sharpton said. “Before we didn’t know. With Barneys, someone in security knew someone at the precinct so they called on their cell phone.”
Without the 911 procedure in place, there was no way to trace that claim, he said.
All in all, Sharpton said he learned a lot of opinions and “that we can build a common good.” Noting that the recently appointed Bratton has changed how retailers will contact the police is a step in the right direction, Sharpton said retailers also benefit from being part of the conversation since they now have something to show shareholders, customers and others how they are dealing with the issue. “Change isn’t anymore about being defensive and making excuses. We can all make changes,” he said.