Colorado shopping centers take action to help keep shoppers safe

Posted on: 3:57 pm, December 12, 2012, by , updated on: 09:42pm, December 12, 2012

DENVER — The deadly mall shooting in suburban Portland, during the busy holiday shopping season, has many of us thinking about safety—even 1,200 miles away in metro Denver.

The most wonderful time of the year means the most customers too.

But for shoppers in Portland, it also proved the most dangerous Tuesday night, when a masked gunman killed two people, injured a third, then committed suicide.

“When something as tragic as happens in Portland, it heightens our awareness,” says Cherry Creek Shopping Center General Manager Nick LeMasters.

The popular Denver mall sees about 30,000 shoppers weekdays and upwards of 50,000 weekends.

LeMasters says a random shooting is possible anywhere—but the mall prepares against it.

“We do fire drills. We do active shooter drills. We do a number of things that prepare us for what we hope will never happen,” says LeMasters.

Some of those things are obvious: monitored surveillance cameras throughout the 1-million-square foot mall and parking garage.

“I see security walking around,” says shopper Patricia Motz of Denver, of why she feels safe shopping here.

And you’ll see security guards patrol inside and out.

The teams also work with Denver Police.

“We do a lot of training with Denver Police as well, where we put some of our teams together with some of their folks. But that relationship is really key to us,” says LeMasters.

He says it also helps that they are just up the road from them on University and I-25.

Training extends to merchants too. Each mall employee the eyes and ears to trouble.

The mall also has more than 100 call-for-assistance phones in the parking garage. You just push the button and it rings directly into security.

Shoppers appreciate the security because while buying gifts, protecting their most precious presents is paramount.

“Her safety is my first priority. If we knew that coming to malls was going to be dangerous of course we stay away,” says shopper Janelle Ast of Denver, with her 10-month-old daughter, Raegan.

“You have to pick a safe environment, but you also have to continue to have faith in the public,” says shopper Sarah Valdez, shopping with her 2-year-old son, Josh.

Cherry Creek also has a way of communicating with each merchant during an emergency, so the stores can shut their doors.

And LeMasters say some security measures he simply can’t speak about without compromising their effectiveness.

“Certainly, there are things that go on that are invisible to the customer–they’re not aware of and that’s okay,” he says.

We reached out to other area malls about security. But we only heard back from Park Meadows.

It also uses cameras and security guards. But in addition, it has the Lone Tree Police Department on property.