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News Article: Malls use many security methods

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  • News Article: Malls use many security methods

    By Eve Samples

    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

    Tuesday, December 26, 2006

    As after-school hangouts and teen date-night destinations, malls across the country spend an average of $1.30 a square foot on security each year, pumping most of the money into a cadre of unarmed guards to protect shoppers and merchants...
    "To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill." Sun-Tzu

  • #2
    The Mall, and Social crime..

    Good article. I enjoyed alot of the perspective about the one true fact.. Malls do have the issue of Juvenile crime and violence. Indoor malls especially, are ideal grounds for individuals to gather and socialize. Its the one place where everyone knows the location, it is safe from weather conditions, has emenities, and others frequent. Kids get out of schools (and in schools you have a difficult time socializing due to classes and structure), and search out places to find their friends to continue any matters they did not finish in the other social institutions, good and bad.

    The aspect of the substation was interesting. I, myself, am for substations, because it brings local PD closer to Mall Security. At my mall, we are currently looking to combine the Substation with our office. One generalized location for Public Safety contact. This will also bring interaction between PD and Security closer.

    One part of the article I disagree with:
    Customer shopping does not decrease after a violent crime occurrs. This is wrong. Malls do suffer after a violent crime takes place. Most malls have traffic counters at each of their enterances. These counters register how many vehicles enter onto mall property, and how many leave. They register these numbers on an almost hourly basis. This gives marketing managers the numbers they need to find out when peak times are, peak days, and how to use these numbers to their advantage to get more traffic. We had a severe violent crime a year ago. The numbers (especially on peak times) dropped by more then half, and it was during peak season.

    Other problems: The media. Once you have a violent crime occurr, we all know that the media likes to cover negative issues in the community. How many times have you opened the paper to read about the nice kid who saved the cat? Not often? Then how about the shooting that occurred the night before?.... Now with the negative attention drawn to your site, the general public will label that site as unsafe. The Juveniles that we dont have problems with, and in nature are ideal and positive, are restricted from going to the mall by their parents because of the potential of violence occurring. So, while the "good" kids dont come on a friday night, the typical deviant juveniles, who's parents dont care, are the ones that get to frequent the mall. The media is also good about asking public polls in a skewed manner.
    Reporter: Excuse me sir... How safe do you feel at the mall with the recent increase in violence?
    Interviewee: Ohh, I used to come here alot, but now with as bad as its getting, I try not to come here unless I really need something.
    Like those questions arent leading for a negative response.

    This in turn, effects the communities views of the mall. Malls are business's.. and with any good business sense, you can not survive on "one time shopping customers". You need repeated customers. Ones who dont stop in only once a year or so, but actually enjoy coming to the mall and do so frequently. So with the view of increased violence, shoppers refrain from going more frequently, and stay away until they cant get their product elsewhere.

    How do we as Security, keep violence out?
    There are so many strategic moves we can operate with. Always remembering that a Mall is Private Property , and not public property is key and essentail before stepping onto the next phase. Many Security Agencies believe the whole "involvement means Liability" aspect. THe Observe and Report only has no place in a mall. Observe and Report works very well, in low keyed environments. But when you have alot of interaction with a large gathering, you need to be pro-active.

    Pro-active: theres a term we hear, but how do we apply it, and what does it mean? Instead of waiting for the crime or incident to occurr, we search oout the potential of the incident or crime to occurr, and take care of it prior to it happening.

    One key action to keeping violence from occurring, is to seek out problem subjects . Problem subjects are the ones we label as having either a history of negative behavior, or by associating or acting in a manner that has the potential to escilate to negative behavior. Examples, in watching who comes in to our facilities, we look for the juveniles or adults, that may be a little more boisterious. We also make sure we are present to be seen by all. This has a two fold response. ONE: We can watch everyone that is present, ad TWO: Other can see us. When we are present, we are watched. The typical person will make a quick obervation of a Security Officer walking around. They glance at him/her for a brief moment and continue on with their shopping. The troublesome subjects will automatically change their physiolgical behavior immediately when the presence of Security or LE is present. Instead of a quick glance, they may stare and watch for a duration. Eye contact when the Officer passes by: if the subject does not look at the officer or makes eye contact and looks down or away, that is a key pointer that the subject is acting abnormal, and reason for keeping a closer eye on. Most customers will make eye contact and repsond to an Officers greetings.
    Officer: Good evening. Enjoying your shopping?
    Normal Customer: Hello, yes. Thank you. (smiles breifly, and continues on)
    Officer: Good evening. Enjoying your shopping?
    Suspicous person: Umm, yeah. (looks away, does not make eye contact)
    This doesnt mean the person is up to something, but is a clue to something not being right, and should be payed closer attention to through the evening.

    Dress Codes/ Assembly/ Obnoxious Behavior
    These are key components to enforce. By using a "zero tolerance" and enforcing these rules, even when having to deal with liberal parents later, is very essential to success. No more then 3 to a group will stop the chances of groups increasing in size and becoming unmanagable and dangerous. Group think sets in when we become part of a larger collective.Attire: We know what is offensive an not offensive dress attire. We know what is gang, and what is not. The old saying of "quack like a duck, walk like a duck, act like a duck.. well, you might be a duck then! follows true to the letter. Even if the juvenile may no tbe associated with a gang, but by dressing liek a gang member, not only does he/she draw the attention of the shopper and security, but the attention of real gang members. And chances may be that it is a gang of opposite dress attire. Take a wild guess, but gang members are not known to think and analyse others very well, and make the mistake that the juvenile dressed like an opposing gang, is a gang member, and act aaccordingly with violence. Gang signing: its a hard one to catch, but if you do, report it immediately, and adminster the proper actions against the subject. Word will get around, and gangs will stop using signing to communiacte at your mall, and find other areas or concepts to communiate their violence. Take away the ability to communicate violence through hand gestures, as well as verbally, and people will not be able to communicate such acts or intentions.

    These are some key points, and in relation to the article. But I feel most importantly is the point that this is private property, and so many worry about violating anothers rights that they will not enforce rules and codes. Just remember this:

    No one forced the visitor to come to your site. They chose to, and in choosing to do so, they know that your site is not their property, and may have to conduct themselves according to your rules, not theirs!
    Deputy Sheriff


    • #3

      Gangs are a product of broken/dysfunctional families. As family standards continue to decline, gang influence will likely increase, even in areas that are more affluent.

      Any correction officer will tell you how difficult it is to curtail gang activity, even in isolation. If prisons are unable to control gangs, how much more difficult will it be for areas like malls where people are free to interact and move about as they please?

      The best way to stop it is to "nip it in the bud" as Barney would say. Once the gang as a foothold in the mall, eliminating it will be like treating cancer that has metastasized. A poor prognosis indeed.
      Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)