Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Happy shopping, and watch out for mall shootings

October 20, 2008

mall-shooting.jpg    The holidays are right around the corner, and the National Retail Federation has visions of tinsel, mistletoe and mall shootings on their mind.
    The NRF and International Council of Shopping Centers on Monday released guidelines to help retailers prepare for shooting incidents at shopping malls and retail stores.
    A joint effort with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and retailers, the plan deals with an “active shooter,” or individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.
    “We live in a dangerous world and the stakes keep getting higher,” say the guidelines.
         The guidelines warn that a shooter may be a troubled current or former employee, or related to an associate with domestic problems.  
    They also encourage employees to create an escape plan and be aware that law enforcement first responders may show up in bulletproof vests and Kevlar helmets and be carrying rifles, shotguns or handguns, and might use pepper spray.  
    Only as a last resort when your life is in danger, the guidelines say, “Attempt to incapacitate the active shooter. Act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter.”  

    Some facts of note:
    – In 100 percent of the shootings the suspect was male.
    – In over 71 percent of the incidents, the shooter was between the ages of 15-25, with 20 percent ages 50-60.
    – In 24 percent of the shootings, the shooter committed suicide before police were able to respond.
     – Active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes.    

     From 2004 through 2008 there were 17 shooting incidents at U.S. shopping malls and retail stores, with 34 killed and 33 wounded, according to the NRF. 



Goodness. As if I needed a reason to shop exclusively online. I mean really.

Posted by John S. | Report as abusive

The impact of hard economic times on employees can translate into theft, drugs, and even violence. It is critical that retail managers identify early signs of concern — unusual actions, changes in behavior, breaking of procedures while monitoring cash access points, and inventory of products, etc. While not all violence starts with these early actions, many stem from the same core problems — issues related to unemployment in the household, personal financial crisis, depression, drug abuse, etc. These real life issues cause stress which can often turn to acts of desparation. Employers are seen as a catalyst to the problems and often the employee rationalizes aggressive actions against their employer — when in fact their problems stem from deeper personal issues. Employers should carefully monitor employee day-to-day performance around key indicators (procedures, customer interaction, peer interaction, management interaction, and monitoring of theft/shrinkage) to recognize early signs of concern and changes in behavior. In many cases detection of early warning signs can avoid aggressive violence.


As a former Shopping Center Security Field Training Officer, I have seen the need for better training for Officers in the mall setting and to be better equipped. Where I worked we were not even allowed to carry handcuffs, let alone anything to defend ourselves with.

Posted by W. May | Report as abusive

I have worked as an officer and supervised mall securty in the metro Detroit region and had a shooting at a mall shortly after leaving it. Training is inadequate, and no defensive measures are allowed because of the possibility that someone may sue in the aftermath of the attempt to help defend those we were supposed to protect. Nothing like being reduced to a walking information booth with a radio and key ring.


Which begs the question; “Why is mall security not better trained and equipped”? As the director of a security training school, I have no doubt whatsoever that private security officers if properly trained, are just as capable of dealing with assaults by gun-wielding assailants as any Police Officer. They do not all have to be armed – it would be simple to have a firearm safe where special repsonding officers could access weapons when an attack occurred. Another solution would be to arm senior supervisors who would undergo rigorous background, training and in-servcie training courses.


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