Macy's Agrees to End Racial Profiling in Shoplifting

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Macy's has agreed to make sure its security officers adhere to store policy and don't use racial or ethnic profiling in combatting shoplifting, the retail chain confirmed Thursday.

A settlement with state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is expected to be signed Friday, said Macy's spokeswoman Carol Sanger. That agreement will make sure security personnel follow store policy that bars using race or ethnicity in detaining suspected shoplifters. Spitzer spokesman Brad Maione declined comment.

Macy's East Inc. has 29 stores in New York City and one in the Albany suburb of Colonie.

Under a tentative agreement, Macy's would pay the $600,000 for the state's costs of examining complaints from black and Hispanic customers who said they were more often detained and questioned, searched and handcuffed than white customers, according to a law enforcement official familiar with Spitzer's investigation.

Among those detained as suspected shoplifters, three-quarters were black or Hispanic, the source said on condition of anonymity. Although store policy allowed handcuffing only after a suspect was determined to be dangerous, all detainees were cuffed. In the upstate store, blacks and Hispanics were three to five times more likely to be handcuffed than suspected shoplifters who were white, the source said.

Macy's has agreed to adopt several measures including appointing a worker to investigate complaints and to train and supervise security personnel, train security officers and sales people on how to avoid any profiling, and hire an outside auditor to perform unannounced reviews, the source said.

"Macy's has reached an agreement with (Spitzer) that is the result of a cooperative and constructive effort to reinforce and, where necessary, improve implementation of the company's security procedures to ensure that all customers are treated equally and that all employees abide by the spirit and letter of our policies," the store's parent, Federated Department Stores of Cincinnati, stated Thursday.