Magazine article Security Management

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Magazine article Security Management

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Article excerpt

Aaron Coleman, the director of security for Cranberry Mall in Westminster, Maryland, says that people, especially youths, look at security officers as rent-a-cops anxious to 'bust' mall-goers for the slightest infractions. To dispel these negative views, Coleman theorizes that the public must be invited to help with crime prevention and made to understand what officers do.

To test his theory, Coleman has developed three programs to educate children who live in the community that his mall serves. The first is the junior security officer program. This program for four to twelve year olds is basically a mall watch program, with the participants acting as extra eyes for the security department.

When volunteers sign up, they must be accompanied by a parent. At that time they take an oath and are given a pamphlet, a card, and a badge. They are also told how to detect blatant crimes, such as fighting or shoplifting, and how to report an incident without placing themselves at risk. Coleman says he is working on enhancing the training aspect of the program, which he feels needs more substance.

The program currently has fifty participants, most of whom are six or seven.

When children outgrow their junior security roles, Coleman hopes they will move into the walk-along program. This second program is for young adults from thirteen to eighteen, and it invites students to tag along with a security officer on his or her shift once every three months. Coleman says this is a great way to show children exactly what the officers do. "They see that we take care of lease violations, such as improper lighting.... They see how we respond to incidents and get to see the scope of the job," Coleman explains. In this capacity, youths are not expected to assist in crime prevention but simply to observe the officer at work.

Not all walk-along program participants come from the junior security program. Coleman also recruits in the mall and asks counselors and teachers to give him names. The officers also conduct anti-shoplifting seminars at area schools and hope to muster interest among attendees. Participants in the walk-along program, which was kicked off in September, receive a T-shirt.

In October, Cranberry Mall also started offering security education classes for children. Every Saturday for approximately one month, junior security officers, walk-along program participants, and other students discuss safety issues and options to just hanging out in the mall. …

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