Speakout

We want your opinions

December 12, 2007

ISSUE:

After a rampaging teenager killed eight people and then himself in a Nebraska mall, local malls are trying to send a message that their shopping centers are 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 the 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 facilities' darkest corners. They've made it harder to gain access to the roof, utility rooms and other areas that make good hiding places for criminals. They've increased the number 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 tomorrow. Please keep your responses short, and include your name, address and phone number. A selection will be printed Sunday.

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