WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Along with helpful smiles in its friendly aisles, Hy-Vee customers may soon see armed guards.

The Iowa-based company with several stores in Nebraska announced this week that it is introducing its new Hy-Vee Retail Security team to retail stores across its eight-state region. 

Hy-Vee had previously worked with third-party security contractors or off-duty law enforcement that work in a security capacity throughout its eight-state region. Hy-Vee said its goal is to create a consistent look for the security team and consistent approach to customer service and security across all of stores. 

Hy-Vee Retail Security officers will be present in Hy-Vee stores during operating hours, the company said in a press release. The company says many of its officers come from a law enforcement background. The officers have been through specific Hy-Vee security training. 

“These officers will help provide another layer of safety and security for our customers, and will work alongside our store employees to deliver the same helpful smiles and outstanding service everyone expects at their local store," said Hy-Vee president and CEO Jeremy Gosch.

Officers are in several stores now, and more officers are completing the Hy-Vee Retail Security Training program so they can begin serving in other Hy-Vee stores across the company’s eight-state region in the near future. Hy-Vee is actively recruiting for other officers to join the security team.