This article reports on an assessment of the state of private security in U.S. shopping malls in the post-9/11 world.
The assessment found significant vulnerabilities in the emergency preparedness of malls. Researchers determined that malls have spent very little to upgrade their security since 9/11. Also, the training of mall security staff in preventing and responding to attacks in and against the mall is inadequate. Further, hiring standards for prospective security officers have not significantly changed since 9/11. In addition, risk assessments are rare, and emergency management plans are often developed without the input or participation of public-safety first responders. State homeland security officials, local police, local government officials, and mall owners and tenants must cooperate in developing and implementing cost-effective security plans for shopping malls. This article offers seven recommendations designed to increase mall security by means of risk assessment, the creation of emergency plans, and conducting drills. In conducting this nationwide assessment of mall security, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security distributed a written survey to homeland security advisors in the 50 States and Puerto Rico, asking them to characterize the level of preparedness of large malls in their States; 33 responded. Written surveys were also sent to 1,371 security directors of the Nation's largest indoor retail malls; only 120 completed surveys were returned (9-percent response rate). Researchers analyzed State laws that regulate the hiring and training of private security workers in the 50 States and the District of Columbia, in order to determine whether such laws had been changed since 9/11. In addition, researchers visited eight malls across the United State and two malls in Israel. 3 notes
Date Published: March 1, 2008