By Drew M. Smith
March 2015 Volume 1 Article 4
In the last several months, the exploits of the terror group ISIS has dominated headlines with their ever increasing surge of violence and conquests. Now comes word another terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda has target various malls in North America. They specifically name dropped malls such as the Mall of America in Minneapolis, the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Canada and the Westfield Mall in Stratfield, England.1
When a threat like this emerges, the property manager of the mall must take additional steps to ensure the safety of its shoppers and its property owners. Such attacks can be destructive and costly. If a property managers fails to take appropriate steps the can be held liable for resulting loses.
Some mall owners are not too worried. General Growth Properties, which owns malls such as the Paramus Park Mall in Paramus, New Jersey and the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New Jersey, issued a statement, “We have a customized public safety program that includes a large number of measures, most of which are not visible to the general public.”2 These security measures would probably include extra security guards, cameras and theft deterrents along with several other things we cannot see.
But the people insuring these properties are chewing their nails despite the threats. To calm themselves, they need to keep track of any likely threats such as a terror alert and document the steps they have taken to react to these threats. They also need to make sure the insurances are intact and that their policies cover this risk. Coverage for certified acts of terrorism are excluded from many policies unless a separate premium is paid. Third, they should talk with the tenants of the property and the property owners and make sure that they know what could potentially happen with this type disaster.
Finally, in the unlikely event that something like this does occur, be sure that you have a plan to address how to handle the crisis. A proper plan should include at least the following: outlining a plan for both lockdowns and evacuations, coordinating with local law enforcement to ensure the safety of both patrons and vendors, and having kits that can prepare for major scenarios.3 You should also consider how to coordinate your security in the event of such a crisis, have a designated contact person in case of emergency for all retailers, marketing and press releases following a disaster and where triage can be set up such as in a parking lot or somewhere close by.
2Bergen Record February 24, 2014 L-3 Mall threat