Malls worldwide are increasing security following the attack at a shopping center in Nairobi, Kenya, a week ago, a spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers said.
The Sept. 21 attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi lasted three days and reportedly left at least 72 people dead, including the suspected attackers.
“In the wake of the attack at Westgate Mall, shopping centers [have] increase[d] security measures by putting more security officers in uniforms and by asking and receiving support from municipal police departments,” said Malachy Kavanagh, the ICSC vice president of communications. “As more information becomes available about what happened at Westgate Mall, the industry will review the information with an eye toward learning from the attack to improve overall security.”
However, Kavanagh noted that shopping malls, like other places that welcome the public, are very much dependent on local law enforcement. He said that malls in countries with a greater risk of terrorism are looking at precautions like metal detectors, CCTV cameras, and armed security officers.
A former police officer who now works as a security consultant for the Minneapolis metro area’s Mall of America, which features more than 500 stores, 50 restaurants and an indoor theme park, told CNN that malls should start doing lockdown drills. These are similar to fire drills, but teach people how to protect themselves in an emergency situation.
“The whole goal of a lockdown is to minimize potential victims while maximizing the time in which the police can get there to solve your problem,” Dan Murphy told the news outlet. “It takes time, and commitment, and the willingness to work through it and see it to fruition. And you also have to actually practice your plan. It’s got to be a living plan, and you [should] practice it often.”