We want your opinions

December 09, 2007

ISSUE:

After a rampaging teenager killed eight people and then himself in a Nebraska mall last week, local malls are trying to send a message that their shopping centers are still safe.

Cpl. Mark Shawkey, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Police Department, said the shooting didn't prompt additional policing efforts.

"It's heightened their awareness," Shawkey said of the officers and security guards who patrol shopping centers. "They're more in tune and will be on the lookout for those types of things, especially groups congregating in the food court and other parts of the mall."

Though two people, including an off-duty Secret Service agent, were hurt in a shootout the night after Thanksgiving last year at Westfield Annapolis mall food court, mall owners and industry experts argue that the nation's 1,200 malls have more protection than ever.

Area malls have extended television surveillance to even the darkest corners of the mall. They've made it harder to gainaccess to the roof, utility rooms and other areas that make good hiding places for criminals. They've increased the numbers of security officers who patrol malls.

There's even more security during the busy holiday season, which can account for as much as 40 percent of sales.

YOUR VIEW:

Do you feel safe as you do your holiday shopping at area shopping malls and plazas? Tell us what you think at arundel.speakout@baltsun.com by Thursday. Please keep your responses short, and include your name, address and phone number. A selection will be printed next Sunday.

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