They're watching at the Mall of America

  • Article by: G.W. SCHULZ, DANIEL ZWERDLING and ANDREW BECKER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 11, 2011 - 5:32 PM

In an effort to thwart terrorists, Mall of America guards feed reports to the police.

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moraspeakingSep. 11, 11 7:12 AM

You have no obligation to answer questions asked by law enforcement. I don't understand why more people don't walk away. Retail loss prevention is a sordid field. Self-important wanabee cops. For everyone's best interests and safety (including theirs), they are best paid no mind.

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holymooseSep. 11, 11 8:32 AM

The private sector knows how to look out for its own interests, and they have the right to do so. This is Ron Paul's argument for elimination of homeland security in airports. Leaving this function to a bumbling government bureaucracy that is hamstrung by union rules and the politics of political correctness, and you end up with less safety, rather than more.

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PaleriderSep. 11, 11 9:11 AM

Mall cops try to interrogate you and you haven't committed a crime - walk away. They are private individuals that have no more law enforcement authority than you have. You can leave. And you can buy elsewhere - there are other options - in this economy other businesses would welcome your presence. I understand the need for actual security, but for mall security to harass someone for just looking at them funny is abuse of their "authority". Interesting that the stores that have a business there aren't more concerned about their customers and the business they bring?

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hizmackSep. 11, 11 9:17 AM

Gathering personal information to hand over to police and racially profiling based on generic information and flimsy suspicions doesn't fall under the purview of "loss prevention". They're rent-a-cops on a power trip.

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ebfauvelSep. 11, 11 9:18 AM

As if there weren't already enough reasons to avoid the Mall of America....

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Mark27Sep. 11, 11 9:30 AM

I read a more complete story on this from NPR and it was disgusting. It gives me one more reason to never set foot in the Mall of America again. If I was the Army veteran interrogated for two hours for having a video camera or the Middle Eastern man persecuted for forgetting his cell phone, I would make it my life's purpose to take this cabal of wannabe Homeland Security agents/rent-a-cops down and to clear my name by whatever means necessary.

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moparfoolSep. 11, 11 9:32 AM

Good advice - refuse to answer questions and walk away. I seldom go to the M of A but the few times I have been there it seems the mall cops were more about hanging around Victoria's Secret than anything else. And now we know where Paul Blart - Mall Cop, ended up at. He wrote the training manual the M of A mall cops use. Rule 99 from the training manual: If someone looks at you funny - haul them in for a two hour interrogation and notify the FBI. Then go back to stand in front of the Victoria's Secret store.

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RadioDerekSep. 11, 11 9:33 AM

The Mall of America has no lost my business. Even in the "world we live in" this is completely inappropriate practice. "Security Guards" at the MOA are lil more than some kid who went to Brown, MN School of Business or some other tacky technical school and got a "degree" in criminal justice. Now they go on a power trip. If I refuse to submit to your interview, my options are: Comply or Leave. NOT comply or have law enforcement called. Until you tell me what I have done "wrong" you will get zero answers from me. In the end, it would seem I have nothing to worry about though, I'm not Black, Middle Eastern, or Asian.

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Mark27Sep. 11, 11 9:34 AM

holymoose, I venture to say the "Ron Paul solution" isn't sounding so good to most of us who read this story and recognized the power trip these clowns are on. Between them and Blackwater, the "Ron Paul model" of privatized jackboots replacing law enforcement sounds an awful lot like Germany during the Gestapo era.

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ebfauvelSep. 11, 1110:15 AM

From flexyourrights.org:

"[D]etentions are voluntary unless you verbally ask to leave. Any time police detain you, it's a good idea to ask if you're free to go. If the officer says you may leave, it's up to you to leave the scene of the encounter. If you choose to stay, the detention is automatically legal."

And: "Reasonable suspicion is the legal standard by which a police officer has the right to briefly detain a suspect for investigatory purposes..."

Note that these provisions apply to detentions by public law enforcement officers, not by private security guards. Unfortunately, because MOA is private property, its private security guards can legally make you choose between complying with their "security interviews" and leaving their property. If you choose to remain on the premises, you are subject to their rules. But you may legally, at any time of your choosing (including in the middle of a "security interview"), immediately leave their property.

If MOA chooses to involve the police (the Bloomington police maintain a substation in the mall's basement), do not answer police questions. Simply say, "I'm going to remain silent. I would like to see a lawyer." Remember, the Bloomington police are public law enforcement officers, and as such they are subject to the constitutional limits described above.

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