At the Frontline: Mall of America Security Director Doug Reynolds

An inside look at how the nation’s premier shopping mall mitigates risks

Reynolds: We work with law enforcement to track some of the trends, but we tend not to see a lot of those trends here. I don’t know if it is because of our size people figure they can’t get away smoothly or if it is one of a number of other reasons. For the most part, we really just don’t see those organized retail crime trends here. When we do see them, and again this could be a difference, we put a lot of effort into tracking the trends we do see out here, identifying them and stopping them. Two years ago, early in the morning around 2 to 3 a.m., we had some vandalism on the property and this was people throwing beer cans, knocking over planters and that type of stuff and it was on a Thursday night. A week later, Thursday night around 3 a.m. the same thing happened and so I got my staff together and I said ‘hey, you know what, something is going on here.’ Same thing, beer cans thrown, planters knocked over, etc.  And so we put some people out in plainclothes working the area and we had some extra folks watching cameras and that type of thing. The third time they came in we caught them. I know that’s not truly organized retail crime, but it’s just an example of how we track different things going on and try to break it.

SIW: What kind of impact has advances in security technology had on your job?

Reynolds: I think it’s impacted us in a few ways. I’m kind of a physical security guy and, more and more, it used to be that I understood the concepts of physical security and I understood all of the tools required to make those concepts work, but now, more and more, I understand the concepts and I rely on my IT department to implement those tools or figure out how they’re going to work with our existing network and there’s challenges with that. I think the other one we’ve wrestled with is social media. The proliferation of social media and just how rapidly things can get out to a large audience and massive amounts of motion can start happening at a very rapid pace. This year, we’re building out the C3 (communication and command center) and really what we’re adding, we have an existing dispatch area and a beautiful emergency operations center, but what we’re missing is a way to do social media monitoring. When people start, through social media, talking about Mall of America and things they want to come out here and do – maybe negative, maybe positive – we can be a part of those conversations. The other thing it will do in a very guest-oriented way is when somebody sends a text or when somebody tweets something, I think generally they expect a pretty rapid response. Now, if you’re not responding in 15 or 20 minutes, they’re wondering why and this will allow us to put more resources into taking care of those guests.