Hoover Police talk holiday safety plans at local shopping center - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Hoover Police talk holiday safety plans at local shopping centers

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 Ever considered how you'd react in an active shooter situation? Local law enforcement agencies have it at the top of their list. As the holiday season approaches, more people crowd into shopping malls. Police partner with shopping centers to try to ensure people's safety, and to have a quick response in case the unthinkable happens.

Hoover Police have a plan for an active shooter situation. Captain Jim Coker, of course, would not divulge details. But he did say there will be more officers in and around several shopping centers in Hoover. In fact, Hoover police will have a command in the Costco parking lot to ensure officers' quick response.

Still, shoppers I spoke with are on edge.

"I do not particularly feel safe in the mall, especially during the holiday season," said Jason Jeffcoat.

Jeffcoat is out shopping today, but says he has no plans of joining the Black Friday crowds.He watched the recent shootings at a California airport, and last night at a New Jersey mall. He fears one day Birmingham could make a similar headline.

"I am concerned about that and I do believe it is just a matter of time before this becomes more and more prevalent all over the country," he said.

Captain Coker hopes this will not be the case, but says his department is prepared. The department begins planning a year in advance for the holiday season. More customers equals more officers.

"We will have officers out there that you can see and we will have officers out there that you can't see. And that is part of our overall plan," said Coker.

The department also will set up a mobile command center in the Costco parking lot behind the galleria mall. Coker says this location was chosen for two reasons: One is because it is in the heart of a major shopping area in Hoover. Secondly is because it takes some of the burden off the 911 call center; allowing officers to respond quickly.

"We have satellite capability. We have a great amount of communications capability at the mobile command center. And it is now a very familiar feature with our holiday safety plan," he said.

Coker says the department also works closely with mall security. A spokesperson at Riverchase Galleria declined an on camera interview, but released a statement ensuring us that a customized public safety plan is in place.

It reads in part:

"Some measures are visible to shoppers, like our trained security teams and police presence. Other measures are not as visible. We don't discuss our policy safety measures because by doing so would compromise our efforts"

That is the same stance many other shopping centers take as well. ABC 33/40 reached out to The Summit and a spokesperson declined to make a statement about its safety measures and emergency response plan. Calls to Brookwood and the Outlets of Grand River  were not returned.   

Captain Coker advises shoppers to do their part too. Try to know exits and the layout of the shopping area as best you can. Perhaps come up with an exit plan and meeting place, just like you would in a fire situation. 

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