Shootings prompt focus on mall safety

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Gazette staff
Friday, December 14, 2007
— The shooting deaths of nine people in an Omaha, Neb., shopping mall last week have prompted Janesville police to focus on retail stores for the rest of the holiday shopping season.

The department announced today it would step up patrols in retail areas. It’s also offering to show retailers how to make their stores safer, and it’s asking residents to report suspicious activity.

There’s no known threat to any Janesville business, but police are being proactive, Deputy Chief Dave Moore said.

“We feel it prudent to consider criminal activity in other areas of the nation” to safeguard Janesville, Moore said.

Police say they traditionally have offered some level of additional holiday patrols. In past years, patrols have focused on traffic or thefts from vehicles, Moore said.

After reviewing the Omaha incident, police decided to increase patrols in areas with large numbers of shoppers, Moore said. Officers will patrol by vehicle and on foot.

Asked if the department was trying to allay concerns that an Omaha-type incident could happen here, Moore said: “We always want to have our citizens feel comfortable in the community, and we have the parallel responsibility to address those acts of violence that could occur.”

Moore said the police response is much like the changes that authorities have made in response to school shootings over the past decade.

In many of those shootings—as well as the Omaha incident—people had inklings that something might happen, and sometimes they didn’t report it, Moore said.

Any resident seeing suspicious activity or knowing of a potential threat should contact the police department by calling 911.

The department’s community services division will offer information and training to any retail business requesting them. Sgt. Brian Donohoue plans to contact businesses next week.

“The information will cover general security issues and enhanced protective measures as it relates to shooting incidents,” according to the announcement.

Last updated: 11:07 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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