Bloomington MN November 29 2019
With the Christmas shopping season upon us and Black Friday shopping well underway, we thought that we would take a closer look at one of the largest malls in America and that is of course, the Mall of America.
To give you an idea of the size, training and ability of their internal security department, let’s start with some numbers.
Number of Security Officers: 170 (Larger than Bloomington’s police force)
Security Officer Initial Training Hours: 500 (The industry standard is between 40-80 hours)
Number of K-9’s: 10
Number of Annual Events at Mall: 500
The mall has its own training program and internal training academy.
“We have to have people who are independent thinkers, who can problem solve, make decisions and stay flexible,” Security director Will Bernhjelm said. “Because not every situation is black and white. So we provide this over-the-top training to give them those tools to be successful on the floor.”
Officers respond to the same type of calls inside the mall that police respond to in their city or county.
“We host over 500 events a year here, so our dogs are used to working around a lot of people, so to them it’s just another day,” said K-9 Training Lt. Neil Throndsen.
They’ve been trained to be around children, large amounts of people, noise and commotion and possible threats. Our dogs interact with guests and check unattended packages, bags and vehicles.
“A lot of it is interacting with guests, because we do a lot of that. Otherwise, we check a lot of unattended bags and vehicles, so we make sure they’re good at their job.”
Throndsen said the training typically starts when the dogs are one year old. It’s a 12-week course, and they get continuous training beyond that.
The Mall of America has been the scene of protests, robberies and other violent crimes but security and the Bloomington police work well together and have prevented or resolved many incidents before they happen or get out of hand.
In April, a man pushed a a five-year-old child off of the third floor. Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, of Minneapolis was arrested in that attack.
Aranda later told police that he went to the mall “looking for someone to kill”.
He was later sentenced to prison for nineteen years for attempted first-degree murder.
The child survived his attack but suffers from the fall.