Peachtree Mall reacts to safety concerns following shooting - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Peachtree Mall reacts to safety concerns following shooting

(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Officials at the Columbus Police Department are speaking out about security measures in and around the Peachtree Mall following this weekend's shooting that left one dead and possibly hundreds in fear.

When you hear about gun-fire erupting at our local mall, it may be hard not to worry about your safety. However, officials at the Columbus Police Department want everyone to look at the nature of this shooting before swearing they'll never return to the popular shopping center.

"The world has evolved. When you go to the movie theaters what do you see? You see an officer there, you go to the mall and you see an officer there," said Major J.D. Hawk with the Columbus Police Department's Patrol Division.

However some are wondering if suited-up officials are enough to prevent crimes from breaking out in seemingly safe locations. Officials with CPD say the  alleged personal conflict that resulted in gunfire erupting at Columbus' Peachtree mall could have happened anywhere.

The city police department helps major local venues boost security with off-duty officers who are armed, in uniform, and ready to react.

"There are police officers that work off-duty at the mall, there's also security officers that work out there at the mall, there's surveillance systems," said Hawk.

Another big talker as people question security comes from the mall's "no-weapons policy."

"Isn't Peachtree Mall a Gun-free zone," asked one WTVM viewer on our WTVM Facebook page. Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson explained that the sign comes more as a legal measure to ensure people can be asked to leave the property, rather than an active security measure.

"The purpose for saying no weapons is when somebody comes in and a security guard or a store/shop keeper sees a weapon on somebody, that person can be forced to leave," said Tomlinson.

Other viewers had strong comments on the policy saying "...criminals don't care about a sign, " and "...they need to remove that no firearms sign...I for one will not be going to this mall until that sign is gone," claiming the sign will only prevent those with legal concealed carry permits from protecting themselves in the future.

Onassis Burress, General Manager of the Peachtree Mall, issued this statement regarding their efforts to keep everyone safe.

“The safety and well-being of our visitors and employees are always our top priorities, not just when tragedies occur.  Peachtree Mall has a customized public safety program that entails different measures for various scenarios to include the hiring of off-duty police officers.  Some of the measures are visible to our shoppers, like our trained security team and relationships with local law enforcement; other measures are not as visible. We constantly review and evaluate our security procedures to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone who walks through our doors. We do not discuss our public safety measures because by doing so would compromise the integrity of the security program. But I want to emphasize, safety and security are our priorities every day.”
 
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