Walgreens pharmacist fired for using gun to foil robbery

Rick Moran
You'd think the suits at Walgreens would be grateful. Instead, they fire a dedicated employee who foiled a robbery using a concealed weapon he carried.

The bizarre reason? Walgreens has a "no escalation" policy on robberies:

One week later, after being praised for staving off the suspects, Hoven was fired. His attorney, Dan Swanson, says a Walgreens District Manager fired Hoven, citing a "non escalation policy."

"As we stand here today, neither Jeremy, nor I have seen that policy," Swanson said.

Walgreens sent a statement to WZZM 13 News, saying employees are trained and expected to comply in crisis situations:

"Our policies in this area are designed to maintain the maximum safety of our customers and employees. Store employees receive comprehensive training on our company's robbery procedures and how to react and respond to a potential robbery situation. In past incidents, employees have told us they've found this training effective. These policies and training programs are endorsed by law enforcement, which strongly advises against confrontation of crime suspects. Compliance is safer than confrontation. Through this practice, we have been able to maintain an exemplary record of safety."

Hoven filed a lawsuit against Walgreens, that has traveled from the Berrien County Circuit Court to the Federal District Court in Grand Rapids.

"Mr. Hoven is challenging Walgreens' right to fire him for exercising his right of self defense," Swanson said.

Yes, police advise people to comply with a roober's demands - just as they advise women who, if being sexually assaulted, to scream for help and, failing that, to give in to their attacker.

Both work the vast majority of the time to save the victim's life. But if it's your life, would you want to roll the dice if you have a gun and are capable of using it?

Whether Hoven's actions were smart is not the point. His attorney is absolutely correct in suing Walgreens for punishing him when all he was trying to do was to protect himself.

Perhaps something short of termination might have been wiser; suspension or demotion perhaps. But firing the guy for doing what comes naturally seems harsh.

Update from Roslyn Smith:

The sad fact is that retail chains that operate on extended hours tend to consider a injured or even murdered employees as just another cost of business.  I am aware of a chain of 24/7 gas stations/mini marts that carries term life insurance on each employee to fund a payout to the next of kin when an employee is murdered in the performance of his duties.  They are not heartless.  What scares them more than a dead employee is the possibility of  an innocent bystander being injured  while an employee is attempting to defend him or her self.  Remember that in some jurisdictions the possibility cannot be dismissed that a local jury would consider some deceased scumbag found in the parking lot with a huge armful of looted merchandise an 'innocent bystander' whose family deserves a high seven figure settlement. 

I suspect that Walgreens will be now be on the target list for flash mobs.  Indeed, I've been wondering if these mobs specifically target large chains because they are aware of such non resistance policies.  Target a locally owned store in which the proprietor or a member of the family is behind the counter and the criminals face a much higher risk of getting their heads blown off.  

You'd think the suits at Walgreens would be grateful. Instead, they fire a dedicated employee who foiled a robbery using a concealed weapon he carried.

The bizarre reason? Walgreens has a "no escalation" policy on robberies:

One week later, after being praised for staving off the suspects, Hoven was fired. His attorney, Dan Swanson, says a Walgreens District Manager fired Hoven, citing a "non escalation policy."

"As we stand here today, neither Jeremy, nor I have seen that policy," Swanson said.

Walgreens sent a statement to WZZM 13 News, saying employees are trained and expected to comply in crisis situations:

"Our policies in this area are designed to maintain the maximum safety of our customers and employees. Store employees receive comprehensive training on our company's robbery procedures and how to react and respond to a potential robbery situation. In past incidents, employees have told us they've found this training effective. These policies and training programs are endorsed by law enforcement, which strongly advises against confrontation of crime suspects. Compliance is safer than confrontation. Through this practice, we have been able to maintain an exemplary record of safety."

Hoven filed a lawsuit against Walgreens, that has traveled from the Berrien County Circuit Court to the Federal District Court in Grand Rapids.

"Mr. Hoven is challenging Walgreens' right to fire him for exercising his right of self defense," Swanson said.

Yes, police advise people to comply with a roober's demands - just as they advise women who, if being sexually assaulted, to scream for help and, failing that, to give in to their attacker.

Both work the vast majority of the time to save the victim's life. But if it's your life, would you want to roll the dice if you have a gun and are capable of using it?

Whether Hoven's actions were smart is not the point. His attorney is absolutely correct in suing Walgreens for punishing him when all he was trying to do was to protect himself.

Perhaps something short of termination might have been wiser; suspension or demotion perhaps. But firing the guy for doing what comes naturally seems harsh.

Update from Roslyn Smith:

The sad fact is that retail chains that operate on extended hours tend to consider a injured or even murdered employees as just another cost of business.  I am aware of a chain of 24/7 gas stations/mini marts that carries term life insurance on each employee to fund a payout to the next of kin when an employee is murdered in the performance of his duties.  They are not heartless.  What scares them more than a dead employee is the possibility of  an innocent bystander being injured  while an employee is attempting to defend him or her self.  Remember that in some jurisdictions the possibility cannot be dismissed that a local jury would consider some deceased scumbag found in the parking lot with a huge armful of looted merchandise an 'innocent bystander' whose family deserves a high seven figure settlement. 

I suspect that Walgreens will be now be on the target list for flash mobs.  Indeed, I've been wondering if these mobs specifically target large chains because they are aware of such non resistance policies.  Target a locally owned store in which the proprietor or a member of the family is behind the counter and the criminals face a much higher risk of getting their heads blown off.