Mall of America increases police patrols after terror video

Security at the Mall of America
Mall of America officials took journalists on a tour Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, showing the security systems the mall has in place.
Peter Cox | MPR News

More guards and police officers are now patrolling the Mall of America in response to a video released over the weekend that mentioned the mall as a potential terrorism target, even though the FBI and other police groups say there is no evidence of a "credible threat."

"We've implemented some enhancements in light of the video that came out on Saturday," said Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts. "There's a number of things ... the public might see, other things that they won't."

The video, purportedly by the Somali terror group al-Shabab, encouraged extremists to conduct lone-wolf attacks on shopping centers. It led Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson on Sunday to urge Mall of America shoppers to be wary.

Monday, Mall of America gave a rare tour of the its security center, where staff members demonstrated how they would disarm intruders.

Security training at the Mall of America
Mall security personnel trained in a facility under the Mall of America. There are around 100 full-time and 50 part-time security staff at the mall.
Peter Cox | MPR News

Typically, the mall employs around 100 full-time and 50 part-time security staff. It uses five bomb-sniffing dogs and hundreds of cameras that are monitored by half a dozen dispatchers.

But there's a limit to what the mall can do to make shoppers safe, said Michael Rozin, a consultant who helped Mall of America update the shopping center's security systems several years ago.

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"I don't think that culturally our community is ready for metal detectors at every single door," he said. "Anytime you have an open environment, it creates security challenges. And so Mall of America had to strike that balance of open accessible environment, and yet very effective security measures in place."

There have been some concerns that profiling might come into play.

But Rozin says that wouldn't be effective, because security might miss the actual source of threats.

"Profiling is simply not an effective security method, period. In addition to the fact that it's just not the right thing to do," he said.

Mall officials say they're maintaining strong relationships with all communities, including the Somali community.

About 42 million people visit the Mall of America each year.