High-End Orlando Mall Makes Statement With Security

Encompassing 1.2 million square feet and featuring almost 150 shops, Orlando’s Mall at Millenia boasts numerous high-end shopping destinations, including just the second Rolex storefront in the United States.

And while some believe parts of the security operations – like the command center – should be not seen, Gregg Moore, the mall’s director of security,  takes the opposite approach.

The command center, complete with video screens, radios and other equipment is located near the mall’s executive office and can be seen by anyone passing by.

“Our philosophy on our command center is that we want to make a statement,” Moore said. “We want to show everyone that we have a large commitment to security.”

Another part of the security equation is the more than 50 in-house, unarmed security officers that roam every part of the mall -- from the 5,600-space parking lot all the way to inside the property.

Just like the command center, Gregg has no problem with the officers taking a high-profile role in protecting tenants and guests.

“Our attitude is that we want to set the tone from the perimeter in,” he said. “We want to show that we have a dedication to security and be right there in your face. We want to send a very clear message to the bad guys.”

But the message to potential criminals is a little different than law enforcement.

“Our job is not to catch the bad guys,” Gregg said. “What we want to do is make them uncomfortable as possible first and then have them move elsewhere.”

And technology also plays a part in protecting the property. Gregg said that the entire mall’s square footage is under IP camera “potential.” By the end of May, a significant number of network  cameras will be added while the monitors in the command center will be converted to flat screens.

Mall security also can record all calls made to dispatchers and use a mass notification system to inform tenants of issues like storms or a lost child.

The camera system plays a large part in helping to protect the property. If a rule breaker is spotted, an officer will come up and introduce themselves and hand a person a small card with the mall’s rules.

After the officer moves on, a camera operator in the command center will continue to follow the person. If the behavior continues, the person will be asked to leave the property.

Along with being the site of ASIS 2011, the mall’s security staff has already begun to partner with local law enforcement to make preparations for for the 2012 NBA All-Star Game coming to the city next year.

“We are very proud of our public-private partnerships,” Gregg said. “There are really no walls with us.”

As an example of the partnerships, Gregg said recently the mall’s security staff worked with Orlando police to conduct a sting. The mall provided empty boxes of Apple products and game consoles to place in a 15-passenger van to help catch thieves in a sting operation.

Mall security and some of the tenants also participate in FORCE, or Florida Organized Retail Crime Enforcement.  The group uses online tools to keep members informed of suspected crime groups that could possibly be coming through the area.

Despite preconceived notions about mall security, the reality of protecting the Mall at Millenia is much different.

“We are very proud of the fact when people come up and tell us that we are the only mall they will go to,” Gregg said. “The industry is really a true profession now. Being a security officer here is no longer a retirement job. You don’t have to have law enforcement experience.”

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