Shoppers preparing to head out for Black Friday this year could discover a high security appearance at United States shopping malls, and not just because of shoplifters and customers arguing over bargains. In advance of one of the major shopping days of the year, elevated focus is being aimed at security after the latest terror attacks in Paris that left 130 dead and many more injured.
Fear over security has mounted since the Nov. 13 Paris attacks — for which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility — with the Department of State providing a three-month global travel warning Monday, the Hill noted. Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, malls have continuously enhanced their security measures, which have incorporated a boost in uniformed and non-uniformed police officers and more interaction with the Department of Homeland Security. With the Paris attacks continuing to make headlines, the biggest U.S. shopping center, the Mall of America, has reported it will commit to enhanced security this holiday season.
“In light of recent events and the approaching holiday season, we have implemented extra security precautions. Some may be noticeable to guests and tenants — such as a more visible police and security presence — and others won’t be,” the Bloomington, Minnesota, mall stated in a report. “We work closely with our law enforcement partners to monitor critical information every day, and we adjust and enhance our security practices as needed.”
Malls will almost certainly strengthen security for Black Friday more than they have ever in recorded history to catch the attention of customers and make them sense safe in light of the Paris attacks, explained Jeff Moulton, executive director of Louisiana State University’s Stephenson National Center for Security Research and Training, which gives counterterrorism training.
The Islamic State group, better known as ISIS, last week published videos threatening attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., FLI reported. U.S. leaders have since claimed there isn’t any credible information of plots to attack the cities. Nevertheless, they have stated Americans should exercise extreme caution throughout the holidays, WSJ reported.
President Barack Obama explained Tuesday that while people are bothered something identical to Paris could occur in the U.S., citizens shouldn’t totally transform the way they live. “Even as we are vigilant we cannot and will not succumb to fear … We cannot give them the victory of changing how we go about our lives,” Obama stated while in a press conference at the White House.
"I want to salute the people of Paris for showing the world how to stay strong in the face of terrorism." —@POTUS
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 24, 2015
Security methods not seen to the naked eye have become the norm since 9/11, Moulton stated, which includes non-uniformed police monitoring malls, which he explained may be common this holiday season. Malls managed by Simon Property Group, which has 208 retail properties in the U.S. alone, make use of traditional security forces and constant patrols of its sites. But those malls also combine an variety of behind-the-scenes security measures that are not disclosed to the public so as to not compromise them, Les Morris, public relations director for Simon, mentioned in an email.
“Each center has a detailed security plan in place for the holidays, which we will continually evaluate and modify as needed,” Morris said. “Our shoppers are also encouraged to follow Homeland Security’s recommendation of ‘See Something, Say Something’ and other general safety tips when in public.”
President Obama’s job approval rating slipped back under water amid record low ratings on terrorism. https://t.co/oKe9HJg0Ri
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) November 24, 2015
Simon mall security also routinely communicates with the Department of Homeland Security and participates in the FBI’s Domestic Security Alliance Council, an intelligence-sharing effort between the FBI, Homeland Security and private businesses, Morris reported.
Communication between malls and the Department of Homeland Security has been one of the key adjustments to how malls commit to security in a post-9/11 world, stated Jesse Tron, spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade association. What precisely they communicate about is mostly kept secret, but Tron mentioned the conversations relate to security.
“What we’ve seen from consumers is that they want a safe, comfortable environment in which to shop, but they don’t want to be impeded in their daily business,” Tron stated.
Security increases for Black Friday will vary by mall, but all malls and mall security agencies have been having the conversation about how to protect themselves for years, Tron stated.
“It’s not a knee-jerk reaction, because they’ve been planning for this all the time,” Tron explained. “[Malls are] constantly looking to evolve and update and figure out how to secure the shopping center.”