Photo: Shane O’Neal – SON Studios If you’ve ever been to Reef Dispensaries, chances are you’ve seen them. Emblazoned in khaki pants and black collared shirts, the Tryke Security team is posted up outside of the building, keeping an eye on things. While they can appear intimidating, ultimately the team is there for the safety […]
Photo: Shane O’Neal – SON Studios
If you’ve ever been to Reef Dispensaries, chances are you’ve seen them. Emblazoned in khaki pants and black collared shirts, the Tryke Security team is posted up outside of the building, keeping an eye on things. While they can appear intimidating, ultimately the team is there for the safety of the employees and the customers. Tryke Security maintains contracts with all six Reef locations across Nevada and Arizona.
Stu Johnson, Director of Security for Tryke (Reef’s parent company), explains that this “big dog in the front yard” posture is enough of a deterrent in itself, while his 40-person team is made up of all veterans and many former police officers with special training. Johnson, who spent 8 years in the military and 23 years in law enforcement, ironically has a background in narcotics. You read that right: Stu went from seizing drugs to protecting them.
“It’s funny because we’ve never found marijuana to be an issue, even when we were cops. The enforcement of archaic laws is silly to me,” he says. “I often joke that I only made one marijuana arrest in my career in law enforcement because it was a trailer of terrible brick weed smuggled in from Mexico. Other than that, it was simple possession and we’d say ‘Hey man, get rid of it.’”
Stu’s perspective as a former cop and as head of security for one of the largest marijuana companies in the country lends an honest perspective that not many have seen. Having been on both sides of the issue, Stu says that cannabis was never really much of a problem for officers of the law. In fact, going after it was more trouble than it was worth.
“Marijuana enforcement took a backseat to the other drugs that were more prevalent, such as black tar heroin, which the only reason that it is prevalent is because of the pharmaceutical companies. If someone gets hooked on oxycodone, their next step is to get on black tar heroin because it’s cheap and easy to get ahold of,” he says.
Tryke’s K9 Program Manager Guy Joslin agrees, himself having spent over 16 years in the military and 13 years in law enforcement. “I learned a lot about marijuana as a cop, but I didn’t learn a lot of the truth as a cop,” says Joslin. “Once you realize that it is relatively benign, it’s very hard to justify going after it. Especially when we were seizing kilos of methamphetamines, pharmaceuticals, and heroin.”
Having been on the front lines, both Stu and Guy agree that marijuana poses no real danger, making their career transitions into the cannabis industry a smooth, natural–if not somewhat strange–progression. During their time behind the badge, the two had seen that in almost every case, crime was attached to drugs other than weed.
“The only thing I ever dealt with regarding marijuana was the fact that marijuana was illegal.” Joslin reveals. “But with the other drugs, name the crime and it was happening.”
Interestingly enough, studies have shown that there is less crime near marijuana dispensaries. That rings true for Reef as well, with its heavy security presence surely playing a role. Otherwise, the prospect of a cash business that can’t use banks and that’s filled with cannabis would be a pretty attractive target.
“We actually did a crime analysis here before we built this building and then did another right before we went recreational. I’ll tell you, the crime statistics have gone down. The robberies are almost null and void in this area here… It shows that our presence here has inadvertently stopped a lot of the crime,” says Stu. “I had a Metro Police captain come here and tell me that they are so happy that we are here and that our organization is the way that it is, because we are reducing crime with just our presence in the area.”
Reef Dispensaries serves thousands of customers per day, typically without any problems. Interestingly enough, the few incidents that they have had have been mostly alcohol related, says Johnson. He explains that Tryke Security’s true mission is to make sure the consumer has a safe and comfortable experience; safeguarding the plants and assets is a secondary benefit.
“The reason that we chose the security model that we have is that we like to protect our customers and make them feel safe,” he reveals. “Nobody is going to harass them in the parking lot on the way in or out, despite the fact that they are going to be doing a cash transaction or leaving with product.”
The professionalism that years of military and special forces training have instilled in the Tryke Security team does not go unnoticed, as each member conducts themselves in a polite and collected manner. There are no jumpy, rent-a-cops on Stu’s team.
“Because of our backgrounds – military, law-enforcement, or contracting – we’re not hyper vigilant. A guy that isn’t sure what’s coming next, he may be a little more aggressive,” explains Joslin. “But people that come through our door, we smile at them, welcome them, thank them for coming, talk to them if they want to talk. They usually are surprised that we are approachable.”
“The guys that are working here have had substantial training. They don’t have that Barney Fife, Paul Blart: Mall Cop mentality, where they are jumping around, looking for something to do,” adds Johnson. “We understand threat levels and body language. We also realize that if we were to react in a panicky way, that makes everyone else nervous, so we try to keep it calm and relaxed.”
Never once having a robbery attempt or major incident, Reef Dispensaries’ approach to security has arguably become a model for the rest of the industry and has been praised by the state of Nevada, according to Johnson.
“To me it’s worth every ounce of prevention in the long run, to ensure that the employees are safe, the customers are safe, and the community is safe,” says Johnson.