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Assessment of the Preparedness of Large Retail Malls to Prevent and Respond to Terrorist Attack

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2006
49 pages
This study assessed whether large indoor shopping malls have become better prepared to respond to terrorist attacks since the attacks of September 11.
The assessment found that malls have taken some steps to improve security; however, security gaps remain. Recommendations are to conduct formal risk assessments that lead to the mitigation of known risks on a cost-benefit basis; develop and rehearse emergency response plans and involve stakeholders; standardize antiterrorism training courses; and enhance partnerships with the public sector. Most mall security staff receives several hours of antiterrorism training, and a large majority of mall security directors report that they have emergency management plans that define actions security staff should take in a disaster. Other than Buffer Zone Protection Program grants, however, very little money is being spent to upgrade mall security. Only a few States have changed their laws to require background checks and set minimum hiring standards or training for private security personnel. Risk assessments are rare; and emergency management plans are often developed without the participation of local first-responders or mall store-owners and their security staffs. Security drills, when done at all, are seldom rigorous or done with first-responders; and there are no clear standards for measuring their effectiveness. The study conducted surveys with State homeland security advisors to obtain their views on mall preparedness, as well as surveys of security directors of the Nation's largest indoor retail malls. Site visits to 10 malls were conducted in order to examine how they were addressing security preparedness and response to disasters. A State-by-State analysis of State laws focused on the regulation of the hiring and training of private security personnel. 17 tables and 5 figures

Date Published: January 1, 2006