(PRWEB) December 08, 2013
Dense crowds gather at the nation’s nearly 110,000 malls and shopping centers during the holiday season. A recent outbreak of violence at the Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall in New Jersey should serve as a wake-up call to private and government security officials charged with keeping shoppers safe. A November 8, 2013 report by Reuters states that, four days earlier, a 20 year-old gunman entered the Paramus mall and fired six shots before turning the gun on himself. No one else was injured but many shoppers and workers experienced panic and terror. Reuters quoted one Paramus mall store manager as saying that, throughout her five years of employment, she had never been trained in how to respond to workplace violence. With active shooter incidents in places like shopping malls having tripled since 2010, this lack of safety training is especially troubling.
“Malls and shopping centers profit by having large groups of people on their premises,” said personal injury attorney Adam Orlow. “If merchants invite and encourage the presence of such crowds, they are obligated to protect them and the employees that serve them.” Orlow went on to note that the issue is one of worldwide concern. According to Reuters, U. S, Attorney General Eric Holder cited the increase in active shooter incidents while addressing a conference of international police chiefs in October, 2013. Calling for new and aggressive policing strategies, Holder advocated tactics that prevent and contain violence. One security consultant at the conference stressed the importance of crisis training for store employees, a measure designed to minimize panic and unpredictability in crisis response. “At the very least, mall workers and shoppers have to know how to get themselves to the safest exits,” Orlow explained. “Mall and shopping center owners can no longer ignore the potential for violence on their premises. They have to tailor their security strategies and practice emergency drills or face possible liability for negligent security.”
Crime prevention tactics for shopping malls are only effective if put to diligent and consistent use. For example, the Beverly, Massachusetts police department lists a number of helpful safety tips on their website (http://www.beverlypd.org/crimeprevention.html). Among the suggestions are interior and exterior security officers in highly visible and well-marked vehicles to deter crime. Bicycle, mounted and rooftop patrols also enhance safety. In some communities, police have established substations in shopping malls. Adequate and reliable exterior lighting also helps to prevent crime, as does providing an escort to shoppers and employees walking to their cars during late-night hours.
The attorneys at the Orlow firm know that negligent security at malls and shopping centers is a pressing concern. As experienced personal injury lawyers, they are also know how to expertly analyze issues of inadequate security. If you or a loved one has been injured due to lack of security at a mall or shopping center, contact the Orlow firm for a free consultation. They operate three offices across New York City for your convenience. They can go to you if you cannot come to them. To contact the Orlow firm, call 866-959-7202.
1. NY Daily News, November 4, 2013: Garden State Plaza mall shooting: Suspected gunman Richard Shoop found dead in building's basement, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/cops-converge-westfield-garden-plaza-reports-article-1.1506720
2. Reuters, November 5, 2013: Gunman kills himself after opening fire in New Jersey mall, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/05/us-usa-shooting-newjersey-idUSBRE9A403W20131105
3. Reuters, November 8, 2013: U.S. shopping malls increase security in time for holiday crowds, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/08/us-usa-security-malls-idUSBRE9A712520131108
4. Beverly, MA PD (http://www.beverlypd.org/crimeprevention.html).