NRF PROTECT to honor loss prevention, law enforcement experts for combating retail crime

WASHINGTON – A veteran member of the loss prevention community and a Department of Homeland Security investigator will be honored for their efforts to protect the retail industry this week during the National Retail Federation’s annual NRF PROTECT conference in Anaheim, Calif.  

“Every day, individuals working in loss prevention are staying one step ahead of lawbreakers to protect the communities they serve and to prevent the next big crime,” NRF Vice President for Loss Prevention Robert Moraca said. “We’re proud to recognize these hardworking individuals for their commitment to safety and to highlight the importance of collaboration between retail and law enforcement.”

Ring of Excellence Award
This award recognizes outstanding leaders in the retail LP community whose “honor, integrity and character serve as an example for the industry.”

This year’s recipient is Gus Downing, president of Downing & Downing, an executive search and consulting firm he founded in 1983 that has helped retailers hire more than 2,800 LP executives. Downing is also publisher and editor of the D&D Daily e-newsletter, which specializes in retail loss prevention and IT security news. He is a second-generation retail LP expert who began his career in 1973 working for a security firm run by his father, Gus Downing Sr., a pioneer in the LP industry. He has held LP leadership roles at retailers including the Children’s Place, Lerner Shops and Gold Circle Stores

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 honoree is Department of Homeland Security Special Agent John Willis, who is being recognized for his work during a 10-year investigation into an organized retail crime group based in San Diego that targeted specialty retail stores. Bringing together multiple retail investigators and law enforcement agencies, Willis’ work led to the 2017 arrest and conviction of 15 suspects and helped reduce violent theft incidents at shopping malls throughout Southern California. The investigation, which recovered approximately $500,000 in merchandise stolen from more than 50 retailers, has been used as an example of successful collaboration between retail and law enforcement in combating ORC losses.

More than 2,500 retail security executives from across the country are expected to attend the conference, which is being held Tuesday through Thursday at the Anaheim Convention Center. More than 90 speakers are scheduled, including cybersecurity expert Sherri Davidoff, Target Senior Corporate Security Manager Brett Abbott and Morgan Stanley Vice Chairwoman and Managing Director Carla Harris.

About NRF

The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail thrive. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., NRF empowers the industry that powers the economy. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. For over a century, NRF has been a voice for every retailer and every retail job, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies.