Shopping Malls: Are They Prepared to Prevent and Respond to Attack?   [open pdf - 316KB]

"The shootings in an Omaha shopping mall in December 2007 brought home, once again, what security experts have known for decades: retail malls are 'soft targets.' Based on surveys of private mall security directors and State homeland security officials, researchers reported in 2006 that U.S. retail malls had received 'too little attention' from security officials as potential sites for terrorist and other attacks. An Assessment of the Preparedness of Large Retail Malls to Prevent and Respond to Terrorist Attack, a study funded by the National Institute of Justice, was based on data from the 3-1/2 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was performed by the Police Foundation, the Vera Institute of Justice, ASIS International, the Midwest Research Institute, Eastern Kentucky University, and Carleton University. The researchers noted that it is the very nature of retail malls that makes them vulnerable: Large numbers of people, many carrying sizeable parcels, come and go through multiple entrances and exits, making it easy for a shooter to blend in with the crowds. Overseas, open-air street markets--the world's original malls--have similar risk factors. And natural disasters, such as fires, tornados [sic], and earthquakes, pose many of the same security issues for malls. But regardless of the event--natural disaster or attack via automatic weapon, bomb, or chemical or biological agent--casualties in malls can be high. The December 5 shooting at Omaha's Westroads Mall left nine dead and five injured."

Report Number:
NIJ Journal (March 2008), NCJ 221503
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Department of Justice: http://www.usdoj.gov
Media Type:
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Listed on September 10, 2008 [Critical Releases]