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  • Mall Security - Part I

    This article is reprinted from Retail Traffic Magazine . I had to split it because of length restrictions so if you wish to reply PLEASE REPLY TO THE SECOND PART, NOT THIS ONE so that the two parts stay together. There are references here to a couple of studies from Rand Corporation and the FBI that might be useful to those who run mall security departments and are required to explain and/or justify their operations to "dollar-conscious" mall operators:

    ________________________________

    PART I

    Extent of the Problem

    "For years, industry experts have complained that shopping center security departments are under-staffed and under-trained. Those shortcomings became painfully obvious last month. An 18-year-old, Sulejmen Talovic, walked unmolested into the 239,000-square-foot Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City, Utah with a backpack full of ammunition, a shotgun and a .38-caliber pistol. There he started a shooting rampage, killing five people and seriously injuring another four.


    And many believe it could have been a lot worse had it not been for a off duty police officer Ken Hammond who happened to be having dinner at the property. He traded shots with Talovic holding him at bay until the local SWAT team arrived. Talovic was then killed in a subsequent shootout.

    Notably absent from this chain of events is any mention of the mall's security guards. One witness even told local television station KSL-5 that the security officers ran for cover at the first sound of gunshots.

    If industry standards prevailed at Trolley Square, the security guards were armed with little more than cans of mace and handcuffs, making only a bit more than minimum wage and had no training in how to handle such an explosive scenario.

    Trolley Square officials would not disclose details about the specifics of its security, including the firm it uses or how its personnel might have been trained.

    Several recent studies have shed light on the sad state of mall security. In December, the U.S. Department of Justice released, “An Assessment of the Preparedness of Large Retail Malls to Prevent and Respond to Terrorist Attack,” suggesting the problem is widespread.

    In a survey of 120 mall security directors, 60.2 percent said that training for security staff at their center has not improved since 9/11 and another 94 percent said that there has been no change in hiring requirements for security officers. Moreover, 84.2 percent said they saw no increase in security spending, with shopping malls in the United States still allocating only 3 percent to 5 percent of their operating budgets to security. That translates to about $0.07 per square foot. In comparison, downtown security buildings spend $0.47 for contracted security, according to data from the Institute of Real Estate Management's 2006 “Income/Expense Analysis Reports for Key Property Sectors.” Shopping centers spend even less than apartment buildings, which average $0.08 per square foot, despite malls being identified as possible “soft targets” by the Department of Homeland Security.

    At the same time, shopping centers remain among the most readily accessible targets for both terrorists and garden-variety criminals — since 1998, more than 60 attacks have taken place at shopping centers around the world, according to “Reducing Terrorism Risk at Shopping Centers,” a report produced by the RAND Corp., a non-profit think tank. Just last December, the FBI arrested a man for allegedly planning to set off grenades at the 783,167-square-foot CherryVale Mall in Rockford, Ill.

    “With a shopping center, you open your doors for business in the morning and anyone is able to go in,” says Scott Born, vice president of corporate relations with Marietta, Ga.-based Valor Security Services, a firm that works with 180 malls nationwide. “It's not like an airplane where people go through prescreening and there are bomb-sniffing dogs and X-rays.”

    As a result, shopping center security personnel provide the first and, in some cases, the only line of defense against both terrorists and common criminals. They are also responsible for evacuating properties in case of an emergency. But because the pool of job candidates with previous security experience in shopping centers is so small — Malachy Kavanagh, a spokesman for ICSC, estimates that there are only about 20,000 guards with a background in shopping centers to serve an industry that contains 48,000 properties — owners often grab anyone who applies for the job, according to Chris McGoey, founder of Los Angeles-based McGoey Security Consulting and publisher of the crimedoctor.com website.

    Yet mall companies tend to pay low wages for these positions, ranging from minimum wage to $14 an hour, with the median starting rate of $8.50, according to the Department of Justice report. Wal-Mart sales associates, by comparison, make $8.26 and the average hourly wages for all retail workers is $12.69. In other words, you can make more working a cash register than guarding it.

    The reason wages are so low, according to the IREM survey, is that 46 percent of real estate owners feel tenants won't help them absorb added costs.

    Making a security officer's job even less appealing is that guards often have to deal with verbal abuse and are generally disrespected, McGoey says “Some aren't comfortable with confrontation,” McGoey says.

    As a result, the Department of Justice report found a near 100 percent turnover rate among mall security personnel. The combination of low wages and stressful working conditions leads to guards looking for better security jobs after they've racked up two or three years of experience, says Kavanagh.

    Who Gets Hired

    The problems start with the hiring process. Most owners and security contracting firms check for criminal records and many ask for a valid driver's license and a certain level of fitness. (Security officers are expected to be able to walk up the stairs and physically assist people in an emergency.) But the Department of Justice report found that less than one in 10 centers had any age requirements for the job, with 4.3 percent asking that applicants be at least 18 and 3.6 percent requesting applicants of at least 21 years of age. In addition, less than 47.1 percent of those surveyed required a high school diploma or a higher level of education, and even fewer (12.7 percent) required previous experience in security, military service or law enforcement.

    In fact, IPC International Corp., a Bannockburn, Ill.-based firm that provides security for more than 450 shopping centers in the United States and the United Kingdom is sometimes reluctant to hire former law enforcement professionals because their mission may be different from what is needed in the mall, says Jonathan Lusher, principal consultant and executive vice president. IPC wants its officers to take a more customer-friendly approach, says Lusher. “We don't want them to have bad habits from other security jobs where the emphasis may have been different.”

    Some companies are also worried about the impression the guards make on their customers. Macerich Co., which runs a portfolio of 73 regional malls, hires security personnel in-house. It prefers its security officers to have a background in customer service than security. The firm feels that training compensates for lack of experience.

    Many security firms and mall owners also train their guards to report suspicious activity to the center's management or the police rather than act themselves if they don't think there is an immediate threat. Since the guards' greatest weapons are a can of mace and maybe a set of handcuffs, they are limited in what they can do anyway. But considering the fact that more than 90 percent of terror attacks on malls worldwide involve explosives, according to RAND, the strategy of relying on police to save the day might be counterproductive. “Emergency response preparedness is very important in many instances, but it has a very limited effect with terrorism. In most cases, once an attack has happened, there is very little you can do,” says Tom LaTourrette, a physical scientist with RAND.

    Continued.....
    __________________________________
    Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-10-2007, 11:34 PM.
    "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

    "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

    "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

    "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

  • #2
    Mall Security - Part II

    See the reference to this article in "Mall Security - Part I"

    ____________________________

    PART II:

    Training Day

    There are also no uniform training standards for mall security personnel and it varies widely from one center to the next. Macerich has a program that lasts 60 days, involves both Internet-based and mentor training and covers everything from company procedures and spotting suicide bombers to working with law enforcement officials, according to Charles Waldron, Macerich senior vice president of property management.

    IPC International makes its recruits go through a 48-hour basic training program that includes sections on criminal and civic law, emergency response, terrorism preparedness and workplace safety, in addition to mandating a two-hour monthly training update for all of its officers.

    At Valor Security Services, the initial training program includes 60 hours of classroom and Internet instruction, with courses ranging from patrol techniques to radio procedures and customer service. After that, Valor's security personnel are evaluated during twice-quarterly visits by regional vice presidents, who give guards feedback on performance and meet with each center's management to make sure the security program is running smoothly, says Mert Price, director of business development with the firm.

    But some security personnel get no training at all. “Some shopping centers will just hire two guard service people to patrol the property and don't really give them any direction; they just tell them to wander around the area,” says McGoey.

    In addition, during visits to eight different malls, researchers for the Department of Justice found that none had established a chain of command for alerting first responders and most of the guards didn't have a clear idea how to coordinate an evacuation plan. “It was not encouraging that, in one mall, the security director said that he would refer to his company's manual in the event of an emergency,” they wrote.

    In all, the report concludes, it does not add up to a very conforting picture.


    Changing Standards

    ICSC recently developed a standardized anti-terrorism training program for its members. Scheduled to debut this month, the DVD-based program was created in partnership with George Washington University, which has done extensive research in the fields of crisis management and homeland security.

    The program takes about 12 hours to complete and is divided into 10 sections, which cover topics from the history of terrorism to behavioral characteristics of suicide bombers to working with law enforcement officials when they are responding to an incident. At the end, trainees are expected to take a 45-question final exam and if they get a score above 70, will receive certification from George Washington University.

    This unified training, available free of charge to all ICSC members and their security service providers, will be an improvement over the current situation, but it won't become a requirement, say officials at ICSC. The organization does expect that most of its member owners will use the program.

    Meanwhile, RAND Corp. found that employee threat ID training, which costs from $54,000 to $153,180 a year, is one of the most effective measures in preventing a terrorist attack. And when security guards are properly trained, armed, equipped with bomb-sniffing dogs and allowed to conduct mandatory bag searches, they can reduce the threat of an attack by as much as 20 percent. " — EM
    Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-10-2007, 11:31 PM.
    "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

    "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

    "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

    "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

    Comment


    • #3
      This is a good read. Like so many companies, the policy of "observe and report only" means companies can hire anyone with a pulse; put them in a uniform immediately; get them the required basic training (IPC's 48 hour course is the IL PERC course, most likely, since they're based in IL); then ship them out to the site to be a visible deterrent.

      If you read G4Securitas' manuals, which Jeff Crump formerly of this forum so nicely posted on his Yahoo Group, you'll notice that during an "incident" such as a suspicious person, the entire purpose of the guard is to make a round, note the person, call their supervisor for instruction after going away from the scene. Visual deterrence without protection, since the police will provide that once they're summoned.

      As to the SLC shooting, do malls want their security forces to stop such incidents, or do they want them to defer to the police (with the superior qualified immunity and no liability on the client or company) to "do the deed" and stop the shooter?

      That the guards jumped for cover isn't surprising. They're most likely not wearing vests, most likely not armed with anything, and most likely aren't going to stand a chance in their attack (Which is what it is, you are attacking the shooter to destroy his ability to continue killing people.)
      Some Kind of Commando Leader

      "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

      Comment


      • #4
        A problem is most malls prohibit law abiding citizens from conceal carrying into their malls. I am a Ohio Concealed Handgun Licensee. Ohio CHL licences are difficult to get. Background checks and training is mandatory. Our mall has several Security Officers who are qualified to use a weapon, from mace to a firearm. The Utah shooter was stopped by an LEO with a CONCEALED FIREARM.

        Where I work, the first part of the Standards of Conduct reads that, "Carrying or possessing any weapons of any kind, including weapons carried pursuant to a valid license" is not allowed. I told my higher-ups that before I got hired at my mall, I walked around all the time armed. It wasnt until I got hired that I found out it wasnt allowed. They were surprised I didnt get caught or arouse suspicion.

        Second, they need to give the qualified ones (LEO or other security experience and training) more then just handcuffs. All I have at work is my portable radio, flashlight, 2 pair of handcuffs, rubber gloves. Thats all. I thought part of the idea of Security is to secure and protect. I wonder sometimes how I am going to achieve this. I guess if I have to fight I will defend myself with whatever is available. Im supposed to protect the company and its assets. How is the company going to protect me? The answer is they are not. Security is not top on their list and is generally is considered a "necessary evil" or something that takes away revenue as it doesnt bring it in.

        I am jumping off this soap box.
        "I am not a hero. I am a silent guardian, a watchful protector"

        Comment


        • #5
          I love how silly some of the Malls are regarding lawfully carried concealed firearms.
          I have friends who carry concealed at the local mall... and I will, too... I have a state issure license to carry concealed... so I'm legal. If I violate the Mall's Policy... what is the most that I will have to do? They will ask me, polietly, to leave, and probably walk me out of the building. That's all they can do... well they could ban me from the property... but the mall's tiny, anyway... I can always drive a few minutes the other direction and be in one of the 10 largest malls in the nation (I think).

          Anyway... the only way I can get in legal trouble, is if I either "brandish" a firearm in a threatning manner, or if I fail to leave the mall after being tresspassed... then they can get me for criminal tresspass - I'm not dumb enough to do that.

          So, as long as the concealed firearm stays CONCEALED... there isn't an issue... they won't know I'm carrying anyway... unless I need to use it for deadly force... at which point I'll have bigger issues than my brother ret-a-cops.
          The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed.

          Comment


          • #6
            Pennsylvania Concealed Carry laws are so much better then Ohio's. We need to take notes.
            "I am not a hero. I am a silent guardian, a watchful protector"

            Comment


            • #7
              Understaffed is correct. See my post in the General Section entitled: "Mall Insecurity"
              Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Excerpt from Retail Traffic Article

                In a survey of 120 mall security directors, 60.2 percent said that training for security staff at their center has not improved since 9/11 and another 94 percent said that there has been no change in hiring requirements for security officers. Moreover, 84.2 percent said they saw no increase in security spending, with shopping malls in the United States still allocating only 3 percent to 5 percent of their operating budgets to security. That translates to about $0.07 per square foot. In comparison, downtown security buildings spend $0.47 for contracted security, according to data from the Institute of Real Estate Management's 2006 “Income/Expense Analysis Reports for Key Property Sectors.” Shopping centers spend even less than apartment buildings, which average $0.08 per square foot, despite malls being identified as possible “soft targets” by the Department of Homeland Security.
                It is absolutely wrong for these kinds of stats to exist regardless where a security officer works. But shopping malls are of particular concern because of the high volume of public presence involved, and must be a focual point by property management to make security a priority. But reality is that monetary profits is, sad to say, far more important than human life and safety and so long as it is we will continue to see statistics such as these, across our nation.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Christopherstjo
                  It is absolutely wrong for these kinds of stats to exist regardless where a security officer works. But shopping malls are of particular concern because of the high volume of public presence involved, and must be a focual point by property management to make security a priority. But reality is that monetary profits is, sad to say, far more important than human life and safety and so long as it is we will continue to see statistics such as these, across our nation.
                  I'm a little concerned about the comparison of expenditure-per-square-foot between malls and office buildings. Malls, by definition and design, have large amounts of open space that office buildings don't have or need, so that "expenditure per square foot" might be a little misleading.

                  It seems to me that comparison by occupancy and traffic would be more relevant than comparison by square footage. Perhaps "expenditure per occupant-hour" (one person on site for one hour would constitute one occupant-hour, as would two people on site for a half-hour, etc.) would be a better comparison, but I have not been able to find any studies using a measure of that type.

                  That issue aside, the real question might be whether we protect our malls OR our office buildings (or work spaces of all types) sufficiently well. It seems almost impossible to find a CEO, factory or store manager, mall property manager or other responsible individual who truly understands the contribution that (true) security makes to the bottom line, whether it be a work space, a shopping space, a recreational space or an educational space. Yet if you ask any one of those individuals "Have you, your wife or children ever avoided a particular location because of security concerns, not attended some function or event, or not gone to the store after dark because of security concerns?" and EVERY ONE of them will tell you "yes".
                  Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-16-2007, 05:30 PM.
                  "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                  "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                  "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                  "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SecTrainer
                    That issue aside, the real question might be whether we protect our malls OR our office buildings (or work spaces of all types) sufficiently well.
                    Given the open nature that malls provide, it is almost impossible to provide adequate security without compromising accessibility. Taking a radical approach, people could be screened at the door prior to entry. But, as we’ve seen recently in Iraq, this is not very effective even against terrorists. The best property managers can do is provide some sort of visual deterrent (i.e. the Security Officer that often doubles as a customer service aid) and hope for the best considering the limited amount of officers on hand for the area that needs to be protected (at least in my neck of the woods).

                    Originally posted by SecTrainer
                    It seems almost impossible to find a CEO, factory or store manager, mall property manager or other responsible individual who truly understands the contribution that (true) security makes to the bottom line, whether it be a work space, a shopping space, a recreational space or an educational space. Yet if you ask any one of those individuals "Have you, your wife or children ever avoided a particular location because of security concerns, not attended some function or event, or not gone to the store after dark because of security concerns?" and EVERY ONE of them will tell you "yes".
                    This is so true and easily observed by walking into a local mall and seeing more custodians on duty and Security Officers.
                    Last edited by Investigation; 04-16-2007, 06:31 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Investigation
                      Given the open nature that malls provide, it is almost impossible to provide adequate security without compromising accessibility.
                      That's very true, and, of course, malls don't want to look like "armed camps" to the public, either. Sometimes a greater presence of visible officers can actually cause people to feel less secure (as in, "Why do they need so much security here? They must have some serious problems!").

                      That's why one of the things that I advocate in malls is a mix of uniformed officers (who would be unarmed, typically, for PR reasons if nothing else), and plain-clothes armed officers (which is how I would use off-duty police, if available). There are "uniforms" that quickly convert from "plain" to "visible" by flipping flaps up or down to reveal or conceal insignia such as a badge or the word SECURITY, etc. These are usually held securely in either position with Velcro. Two flaps are all it takes to convert from someone that you wouldn't pay any attention to when they pass you in the mall, to someone in a recognizable uniform.

                      Note that the plain-clothes officers that I envision are not about shoplifting, even though this is a mall. They would strictly provide an armed response capability that runs "under the radar screen" and does not unduly alarm shoppers. In case of an event requiring their response, they would make their presence visible by the means mentioned above so that they would not run into the obvious problems that could occur when the police arrive and see "a civilian" with gun in hand. It's sort of a variant of the Sky Marshall concept.
                      Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-16-2007, 07:51 PM.
                      "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                      "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                      "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                      "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A Montreal mall uses uniformed & plainclothed personel but differently than how you describe. Being Canadian non of them are armed.

                        The mall has a good camera system. When the Operator sees something suspicious going on he sends in the pakincloithed guy to get a better look. The plainclothed guy then calls in the uniformed guys if necessary.

                        Ands hotels still to this day seem reluctant to show that they have security. A lot dress us in suits with just a name tag identifying us as Security.
                        I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
                        Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Mall securtiy Part I

                          As a Security Professional, and a director of Public Safety at a 1.2 million sq. ft Mall, I get offended that people are taking this Assessment that was done as the gospel.
                          They had 120 respondents, out of over 4,000 that they sent out.
                          No, my Officers are not armed, yet we go through "what If?" training weekly.
                          Some of the news stories are our training, and others are what we have observed.
                          This is a Private Mall and we are not contained by the companies that own many malls or outsource their security.
                          I am a member of ICSC and ASIS. This keeps me current on things happening around the world. I am also on the Homeland Secuirty board for the State of Iowa.
                          Training, Training Training, That is the only thing that can prepare you for all the situations that happen. The training manual is for guidelines. In every emergency, we fly by the seat of our pants.

                          Running for cover, What would you want the Officers to do?? I have been trained to get the most advantageous spot to let the Police know where the persons are, and if I have an opening to detain this person, it will be done.

                          I hire off duty Police Officers for the evening shift, and call them in for extra work as needed.

                          I have seen the tragedies that have happened, and have been on the front lines during some of these. I instill in my Officers, that I will never ask them to do something that I would not do myself. The safety of the Officer is paramount.

                          In Iowa, our biggest Terrorist threat is a Tornado. If My team can handle that, we can handle almost anything.

                          I have been watching the so called experts, saying that someone should have caught the signs of the shooters, before they started shooting. The signs are rarely enough to come to the attention of Security or the School administrators.

                          If someone wants to die by cop, or commit suicide, there is little that you will find out before this happens.

                          By having a plan, and contacts with Police fire, and State officials, this will help the team to protect as many as they can. No one can protect all persons, if someone has a death wish.

                          These are a few of my thoughts.

                          Yes the program that ICSC has rolled out is great. I have taken the videos and the test. This will become part of the training package. Training NEVER stops!!!
                          Be safe
                          Chuck Scahmp CPP

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You make some very good points, Chuck.

                            I would only point out that a sample of 120 from a population of 4000 is a response rate of 3.3%. This is by no means statistically insignificant, so it does not invalidate the study unless there were some other evidence of bias in the sample response.

                            The point you make about tornadoes should not go unnoticed by all of us for two reasons.

                            1. You state that a tornado represents your greatest threat, and this, is something that often becomes lost in the "post-9/11", "terrorism-focused" thinking of many, even in our own profession. The fact still remains that the greatest threat almost all venues face is either a natural disaster such as a tornado or flood, or, for some, an unintentional man-made disaster such as a derailed car full of deadly chemicals. Statistically, the likelihood of a terrorist incident at most of our facilities ranks right down there with the chance of a busload of Hungarian-speaking Greek Orthodox bishops jumping the curb on the seventh Friday of the thirteenth month and crashing into another busload of Slobovian sheepherders.

                            2. You also mention that if your crew can handle tornadoes, they can handle other disasters as well. This point cannot be made enough...preparation for your worst and most-likely disaster will take you a long way down the road to preparation for the other disasters. There are many similarities among the different "types" of disasters that, fortunately, mitigates the necessity to "reinvent the wheel" or "start from scratch" with the planning for each type of disaster.

                            Thanks again for your cogent and timely remarks.
                            "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                            "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                            "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                            "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              One of the serious problems we have is that you have one employer doing this kind of training and another doing that kind of training and another doing no training at all, and you have clients who don't give a rat's a$$ about security officers being properly trained.

                              Our industry has no standards of practice, across the board, and it is greatly hurting security officers professionally and tactically, everywhere, in the process and making all of us sitting ducks.

                              Here in KCMO, we have recently just passed a serious gang war - broad daylight gun fights in residential communities; one of the instigator was recently on America's Most Wanted and captured in just 7 minutes after the show aired; the second instigator, the one pulling the puppet strings was doing so from his prison cell - go figure.

                              Before that, two security officers and three gang members got into a shoot out in one of our major hospital ER's during broad daylight. One security officer was shot in the leg and unloaded 9 rounds afterwards; and all because he asked the three jerks to leave the hospital because they were disturbing others. And only two weeks ago, I had to draw my gun.

                              I, and my fellow officers here, do not have the luxury in relying upon the notion that help is just a 911 phone call away and I venture to say that we are not alone. Hence, the necessity to ensure that proper training opportunities are not only available but consistent from one employer to the next; one client to the next is a must; least security officers will continue just being sitting ducks.
                              Last edited by Christopherstjo; 04-19-2007, 01:11 AM.

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