Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mall Violence: Up Close and Personal

It’s been 70 days since a teenaged gunman opened fire in the Von Maur department store in Omaha, Neb., murdering eight shoppers before killing himself. The pages of my hometown newspaper, the Lincoln Journal-Star, no longer carry any stories on the shooting that occurred in our neighboring city, but the tragedy hasn’t been forgotten. And now, with another shooting earlier this month that killed five in a strip mall in Illinois, the wounds have been re-opened.

But instead of licking our wounds and moving on, the time has come for some kind of action.

I read earlier today that the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) have formed a working group to address how to combat active shooters in malls and stores. And a conference, to be held March 30-April 1 in New Orleans and co-hosted by both groups, will focus specifically on mall violence. (Visit and click on “full meeting calendar” for more information on the Shopping Center Security Conference.)

Attendees of the conference will discuss how to train employees to protect themselves and their customers in the event of a shooting or hostage situation. It’s a sad state of affairs when an entire conference centers around protecting ourselves and our customers from murderers who target malls and retail stores. But that’s what it has come to, and I for one am glad that the NRF and ICSC have taken the bull by the horns.

—Katherine Field

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