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  • Writer's pictureWGON

New York moves to install panic buttons in stores to prevent crime—Walmart says no way

On Friday, the New York State legislature passed a law requiring most of the nation's largest retail companies to install easy-to-access panic buttons in their stores or provide employees a switch that would enable an alarm and notify emergency services. However, Walmart, the world's largest retailer with 4,700 stores, has come out strongly against the law on claims that panic buttons trigger false alarms.

Dan Bartlett, Walmart executive vice president of corporate affairs, told Reuters, "Eight out of 10 times somebody thinks something's going on, there's actually not."

Bartlett went on to claim that it would be impractical for Walmart to install panic buttons in each of its 98 store locations in New York. 

The "Retail Worker Safety Act" has moved to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's Office for signature. She has 10 days to make a decision before the law takes effect by default.

The panic button provision will go into effect in 2027 and applies to all retailers with more than 500 employees nationwide. Additionally, the legislation would mandate that the majority of retailers with a workforce of 10 or more employees conduct safety and violence prevention training for their employees.

While Walmart's workforce is not unionized, retail unions want to see the law take effect. This includes the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) which represents more than 100,000 workers.

The legislation comes as New York struggles to contain an increase in crime following the 2020 war on police, increasing petty thefts, lootings, and notorious smash-and-grabs.

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