Having the right technology and processes will increase the effectiveness of your surveillance system
Retail security balances industry regulatory requirements with cash handling, customer data and physical security needs.
At a minimum, security solutions must comply with their jurisdiction’s regulations. The addition of customer identification and credit card processing add additional compliance requirements under Personal Credit Information (PCI) law. There are also loss prevention considerations that should be addressed with cash handling, as well as robbery and burglary mitigation.
Here are some security practices every cannabis retail business should consider.
Security camera requirements are dictated by state regulation, but even if full coverage of the dispensary isn’t mandatory, it’s advisable. This includes the entry doors, counter, cash register and product storage rooms.
Starting with the entry area, you’ll want clear images of all traffic entering and leaving the store. These are needed for the identification of customers, staff and other workers and any items they are bringing into or taking out the doors. This video is also very important evidence if a robbery or smash-and-grab burglary occur.
Next, you’ll want good visibility on the counters and cash registers. Front-view shots of the counter area ensure compliance if audited for identification checks, and to make sure daily purchase limits are followed. For the cash registers, a separate overhead camera is recommended to see all currency activity by employees. If a cashier’s sales don’t match the register tally, you’ll want the clarity to see the denomination of the bills.
Video recording of all products, whether behind the counter or in locked storage areas, is usually part of regulatory compliance. Even if it’s not, from a loss prevention aspect, you’ll want to know when your inventory moves out to the sales floor or anywhere else in the dispensary. Finally, if there’s a separate employee door, you’ll want camera coverage inside as well as outside to record all activity.
Regulations will specify how long security video needs to be retained. The average is 90 days, but some states require up to six months of storage. Operators often decide to add additional camera coverage after their first few months if a loss or incident occurs. More cameras increase storage requirements. The cost of video storage has dropped in recent years and it’s much less expensive to purchase upfront than add later.
If your video recording is unified with your inventory management, traceability and point-of-sale systems, it can make any possible incidents or audits far easier to correlate.
Most inventory systems use barcode scanning technology. In seed-to-sale states, the product is tracked from cultivation until it’s purchased at the register, with various scanning along the way. Having those product scans tied to video allows operators to search by barcode number and go immediately to the corresponding video. In an audit, this can be crucial to identifying when and where the product was last seen or stored.
POS scanning can also be linked to video, providing evidence of the full transaction, including the employee and customer. This helps validate purchases and that identification procedures are followed. It can also recognize potential transactional fraud or error leading to cash theft.
Transactional fraud is rampant in cash-heavy businesses. One common fraud is the post-sale void. This involves an employee voiding out a transaction after the customer has paid in cash and left. The money is then pocketed and when asked, the cashier will say the customer forgot their wallet. There are multiple variations of register cash theft. If these transactions aren’t flagged and the corresponding video reviewed, operators can lose thousands of dollars.
A POS video integration can run daily reports flagging these and other types of fraudulent transactions and quickly identify potential employee theft.
Retailers of all types should have a firm commitment to cybersecurity, from a PCI compliance standpoint as well as protecting their systems from ransomware and other online criminals.
Protecting personal data is essential for maintaining the trust of your customers as well as business continuity. POS credit information is encrypted and an integration to your video management system will only show transactions, not card data.
Make sure the unified security system you select has documented its cybersecurity process and provides updates on any known vulnerabilities. Likewise, it should provide reports on potential problems like weak hardware passwords or outdated firmware as well.
Access control, unified with video, helps ensure that only specified individuals enter restricted areas, such as product storage, cash handling and the location of the cash safe. In some jurisdictions, access control may be mandated for product storage areas in the stores.
Combined with video, access control can quickly identify who has accessed any restricted area. This can provide real-time alarms and audit logs that track all activity in and out of rooms. With unified video, operators can identify if unauthorized personnel gain access by using someone else’s badge. And if a badge is lost or stolen, or an employee terminated, the system will be able to deactivate their badge credentials immediately.
The right access control system for your business should also unify the intrusion alarm system into a single console. This makes use and management simple and cost effective. It also allows for a full audit of store opening and closing, with the corresponding video for verification.
Intrusion alarms and target hardening
Intrusion systems are a core component of physical security for dispensaries. They alert to entry or possible burglary in off-hours. They can also be equipped with duress or panic buttons in the event of an armed robbery or daylight smash-and-grab event.
However, due to false activations, many jurisdictions require visual verification of alarm events before dispatching law enforcement. Unifying video with your intrusion system allows your staff or third-party monitoring provider to instantly verify if a real alarm situation arises.
Proactively hardening your store against robbery or burglary, depending on your location, may also be a consideration. Physical security measures including window bars, metal shutters and ballistic glass may be warranted based on local crime statistics. Consulting with other businesses in the area, as well as law enforcement, during initial security design is recommended.
A unified security platform with an open architecture is the ideal way to respond to regulations and security requirements. A unified platform allows you to start with the security fundamentals and add modules as needed and budget allows. Open architecture ensures that cameras and recording servers will work with multiple software vendors. You don’t want to be tied to a single vendor that requires proprietary and costly upgrades that you can’t control.