The recent terrorist attack at a mall in Kenya has brought the issue of mall and store security front and center once again. That was among the issues that brought Richard Mellor, vice president of loss prevention at the National Retail Federation, to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee yesterday afternoon.
"While shopping malls have been categorized by some as 'soft targets,' it would have been hard to imagine or prepare for the devastating attack conducted by terrorists at the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya last month," Mr. Mellor said in a statement. "Collaboration and partnership between retailers and law enforcement needs to remain strong and vigilant now more than ever."
In Kenya, members of al-Shabaab, an Islamic terrorist group, opened fire inside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi killing at least 67 and wounding many others. Local law enforcement and military response to the attacks has been widely criticized in the aftermath of the event.
The vulnerability of soft targets in the U.S. has become tragically clear in recent years as innocent lives have been lost in a handful of terrorist attacks, such as the Boston Marathon bombing and mass shootings carried out in malls, movie theaters, public schools and universities.
Mr. Mellor said retailers have protocols in place to deal with a wide variety of threats including "active shooter incidents" and when locations become the "target for a terrorist attack."
"Because these threats are always present, retailers invest heavily to ensure that they are prepared to deal with any and all threats against their businesses, their employees and their customers," said Mr. Mellor. "Moreover, retailers are consistently evaluating the effectiveness of their programs and seeking improvements. As criminals and threats become more sophisticated, so do retailers."
How much more or less sophisticated are retailers today in dealing with acts of violence on their premises compared to 10 years ago?