Your Editor's Note, published in May, “Terrorism: Protecting Your Mall,” implies that in wake of 9-11 shopping center owners have not performed detailed security assessments of their properties and are unwilling to spend a “few thousand dollars” to do so. Nothing could be further from the truth. As someone who has covered the industry for many years, you should have known better than to make these assertions.
The shopping center industry has always made security a top priority, and it takes seriously its responsibility to provide safe and comfortable places to shop. Shopping centers employ well-trained professional security staffs. Additionally, most heads of corporate security for shopping center companies are former law enforcement officials with a great deal of experience, expertise and contacts with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
The shopping center industry was one of the first property sectors to establish a relationship with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In fact, in October of 2001, just one month after the terrorist attacks, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) hosted a conference call with the DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) whereby security experts offered advice to over 1,000 industry professionals who participated in the call on how to better secure and protect shopping centers.
Since this initial conference call, ICSC and the shopping center industry have worked together to share security tips, suggestions and best practices among our members thorough ICSC's Web site, publications, and meetings. In fact, this year's ICSC Security Conference featured a keynote address by a recognized expert on securing shopping centers, Arik Arad, head of security for the Shopping Center Association of Israel.
ICSC and the industry continue to interact with DHS and FBI, and they have assured us that they know of no credible threat against shopping centers in the United States. This is not to say that shopping centers are not a potential target. They are no more or no less potential targets than every other facility where the public gathers in the United States.
Christian Kerodin, the author of the report, “Terrorist Targets List: American Retailers & Restaurants,” on which your editorial is based, has a firm grasp of the obvious. Yes, a series of terrorist attacks on a shopping center or a retailer would have a chilling effect on the economy; the same logic could be applied to any business or industry. However, I am not aware that Mr. Kerodin has first-hand knowledge of efforts put forth by the shopping center industry to protect and secure shopping centers. In the wake of the terrorist attacks a number of “security experts” have suddenly materialized who issue unsolicited critical security assessments on one industry or another while offering their services to remedy the situation. Frankly, in Mr. Kerodin's case, the shopping center industry is not buying and neither should you.
Michael P. Kercheval
President and CEO
International Council of Shopping Centers