FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — There have been two shootings inside Glenbrook Square Mall on the north end of Fort Wayne in less than two months.
In both instances, while unrelated, they were contained to two individuals who were arguing. In both instances, police were able to respond quickly and clear the mall.
Sergeant Jeremy Webb told WANE 15 that’s because the FWPD has a good relationship with the mall’s management and security team.
“Ultimately, we have the same objective and that’s public safety,” Webb explained.
FWPD has been given tours of the mall, maps of the infrastructure, and the ability to use the mall for training, and now uses the mall for FWPD’s Air Support Unit to launch its drones.
All of that being said, the mall is private property with a no-weapons policy, and twice in the last two months, people have used concealed weapons inside Glenbrook Square.
“Unless you’re frisking everybody that comes through the door, or make people walk through metal detectors, it’s difficult to enforce unless you see it,” Webb said.
He believes there is a balance between people’s freedoms and safety.
“We do our best to prevent things, but to prevent something 100%, it’s very difficult,” he added.
One thing both shootings did was provide Fort Wayne officers with practice. What if it wasn’t two individuals arguing? What if it was an active shooter situation that has been seen in so many headlines across the country in recent years?
“It could happen anywhere and you want to have protocols in place in case it does happen,” Webb said. “We try to, if something like that happens, to respond as best we can, and as fast as we can, and as efficiently as we can to make sure we neutralize any situation. You always prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
Webb told WANE 15 that, while it’s not something that should be normalized, the shooting in July prepared mall staff and FWPD officers for the second incident just days ago.
“They had a better idea of what to do, which made our jobs easier for the officers that responded have done it before, too. So, everyone was somewhat familiar because we went through a similar procedure not too long ago,” he said.
And that efficiency showed that officers will be even more prepared if they get the “active shooter” call no one wants to get.
“It shows that what we do works for the most part, and fortunately we haven’t had to test it to the next degree where there’s an actual active shooter situation,” Webb told WANE 15. “It’s been pretty much targeted, which has given us practice in case something does happen.”
One thing Webb doesn’t want people to think is that it isn’t safe to go to Glenbrook Square.
“The mall is a safe place. I don’t want people to feel like they can’t go there. I think it’s safe. I think the mall has taken the proper precautions to make it safer. We’re working with them. We’re assisting them. It’s their decision on how to prevent this, but we’re allowing them to use our knowledge and our resources, and vice versa. We have a constant flow of information back and forth. So, we’ll do what we can, but they’re leading the way and I think they have a lot of things in place to help, even, make it more secure than it is now,” he said.
He told WANE 15 that management is currently working to upgrade its surveillance camera system.
In addition to that, Webb said the mall’s private security team has always hired off-duty officers to augment their staff. Since the first shooting in July, they’ve doubled the number of off-duty officers they have working in addition to the regular security staff.
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