A Look at Mall Security

There was a shooting this past weekend in a mall in Seattle--a possible gang-related incident. It does not appear to be an instance where someone was specifically targeting a mall and trying to wreak violence. In other words, it was the kind of incident that even the best security measures would be hard to prevent.

The story did prompt the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to look at what kinds of security malls have in place in the region. It makes for an interesting read.

The crime at Southcenter could have happened anywhere, Pacific Place general manager Lynn Beck said.

"It's an unfortunate reminder that we all need to do certain things to be prepared," she said.


"People come here to shop, they come here for entertainment," Beck said. "Does every business need metal detectors? It becomes a difficult question. You want to keep the environment welcoming, friendly."


Security officers at Bellevue Square are purposely visible, she said, and available for addressing skirmishes or directing shoppers to a particular store.

To augment its security staff in busy periods, Kemper Development hires police officers through Puget Sound Executive Services, which helps place Bellevue police officers and Washington State Patrol officers.

Northgate Mall contracts with Los Angeles-based Andrews International for security. Andrews' officers patrol by vehicle outside and on foot and on scooters inside. They provide security escorts and monitor surveillance systems.

The mall's "tenant awareness" program trains businesses on how to watch for suspicious activity and report it to security, said Sarah Bonds, area marketing director for Simon Property Group, which owns the Northgate and Tacoma malls.


But Doug Reynolds, director of security for the Mall of America in Minnesota, provided some insight into how security works at the nation's largest retail and entertainment complex.

To keep 42 million shoppers per year safe, security officers use closed-circuit TV surveillance, radios, pepper spray and collapsible batons. A few months ago, Mall of America security officers began training in the defensive martial arts techniques of Krav Maga.

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