Police increasing patrols, visibility during holiday shopping season
As shoppers descend on their favorite stores this holiday shopping season, police across the Northside are gearing up for another busy few weeks.
Police will be out in full force to ensure Northsiders stay safe as they fill their loved ones’ Christmas and holiday wish lists.
Local law enforcement agencies are providing additional security at the area’s major shopping centers and stores, with increased patrols which began on or before Thanksgiving Day.
Retailers are also getting into the act. Walmart in Madison, for example, hired off-duty police officers to boost security at its Grandview Boulevard location. And in Ridgeland, the Township at Colony Park brought on private security for a Christmas open house.
Even with the additional coverage, authorities in Madison, Ridgeland and Jackson say no officers will be taken off of their traditional beats.
“This is just an augmentation. We’ll have beat officers doing what they do, and this additional team will be out,” Ridgeland Lt. Tony Willridge said.
Ridgeland’s holiday detail started Thanksgiving afternoon focusing on the city’s primary commercial corridors – East County Line Road from Ridgewood Court to Pear Orchard Road, and Highland Colony Parkway from Old Agency Road to the Township at Colony Park.
In all, six or seven additional officers are on duty. “There will be high visibility of uniformed personnel and marked units, (and we) will have some plain-clothes individuals as well as unmarked vehicles,” he said.
The detail will run through Christmas Eve.
The Madison Police Department began increasing coverage along the Grandview Boulevard and U.S. 51 corridor shortly before Turkey Day.
In all, two to three additional officers are patrolling in the Grandview area during business hours, with another officer patrolling Highway 51 and a roving supervisor working both areas, said Cpt. Kevin Newman.
Jackson’s Operation Safe Shop started Thanksgiving Day and will run until after New Year’s.
Precinct Four Cmdr. Keith Freeman said the department assigned extra officers at Highland Village, Maywood Mart, Deville Plaza, as well as the shopping center that includes Cowboy Maloney’s, the Junction (the Target shopping center), and areas along Ridgewood Court and County Line Road.
Officers were pulled from JPD’s Direct Action Response Team (DART), as well as its traffic division. No overtime will have to be paid as a result, he said.
DART officers are typically assigned to problem areas throughout the capital city and do not answer calls for assistance unless other units are tied up.
Police will patrol parking lots with their blue lights on, to provide an extra element of security and to serve as a deterrent to criminals. Shoppers who feel unsafe or see something suspicious are encouraged to approach the officers for help, authorities say.
In addition to the blue light patrols at the area’s shopping centers, JPD will also be setting up its mobile command unit in strategic spots and deploying SkyCop, a tool that includes four cameras that allows the department to remotely monitor high-traffic areas in real time.
Even with increased security, law enforcement officials are urging shoppers to take steps to protect themselves. Motorists should lock their vehicles when they’re unoccupied and make sure any packages or valuables are out of sight.
Said Newman, “(Criminals see them and they’re) easy targets to break in and steal.”