The Streets at Southpoint puts a dog on patrol to detect guns after a Black Friday shootout and other incidents of guns being brought to the mall.
German Shepherd dog named Cigan, trained and supplied by Florida-based security company Southern Coast K9, will patrol common areas and entrances with one of the mall’s security guards, Lindsay Kahn, a spokesperson for the mall owner. commercial Brookfield Properties, told The News & Observer on Monday.
Like all Southern Coast K9 dogs, Cigan was handpicked from a European breeder and completed five to six months of training at the company’s facilities outside of Daytona Beach, said the chairman of the company, Bill Heiser, at The N&O.
Cigan was then assigned to his handler, a Southpoint security guard, who went to the Southern Coast K9 facility for an additional four weeks of training on how to handle the dog, Heiser said in an interview.
Patrick Anderson, senior general manager of Southpoint, said mall managers “share our community’s concerns over recent incidents,” which he said led to the canine safety measure.
“The well-being of all guests, tenants and employees is paramount, especially as we are heading into the home stretch of the holiday season,” Anderson said in a statement. “We hope this action will help us move forward together. “
Under the mall’s code of conduct, people are prohibited from bringing illegal firearms or weapons, or engaging in “disorderly conduct of any kind.”
How K9s Are Trained To Find Shopping Malls
Southern Coast K9 has been training and supplying security dogs to customers including shopping malls, amusement parks, law enforcement and even the military for more than 30 years, Heiser said.
The company, founded by Heiser in 1988, has worked with the same European breeders for almost three decades, he said, and only chooses dogs that are “sociable, well-balanced and possessing an extreme hunting drive.”
This means that dogs are not distracted by crowds, loud music and other noises, and focus only on finding and identifying their stimulus, which may include gunpowder, explosives, drugs or, in this case, firearms.
After completing their own training, dogs are paired with their handlers and undergo four weeks of training with them.
“We love to have a dog with one handler,” Heiser said. “The dog knows the master’s personality and how it works, and the master knows the dog’s personality and how it works. If you start to add other people to the mix, it becomes confusing for the dog.
Buyers shouldn’t worry about running into Cigan in the mall, Heiser said, because Southern Coast K9 only chooses dogs that have the right temperaments.
If the dog identifies its stimulus, it alerts its handler by breathing more intensely and wagging its tail, Heiser said. Dogs are only trained to sense their stimulus and take no further action once they find it.
“The dog’s sole purpose is to alert about this and then it’s up to the handler to take over,” Heiser said.
Kahn, the spokesperson for the Southpoint owner, said dog patrols at the mall have already started and will focus on common areas inside the mall. The dog will not enter stores unless invited to do so, Kahn said.
Early feedback from customers and retailers who saw Cigan touring has been favorable, Anderson said in an interview on Monday.
Three incidents involving firearms in recent weeks
The mall’s move comes amid several incidents in recent weeks, starting with a Black Friday incident on November 26 in which three people were gunned down.
According to the Durham Police Department, two men approached a man selling jewelry on the second floor when one attempted to rob the jewelry seller, leading to both the man trying to rob the jewelry and the man to sell them for guns. Several shots were fired, forcing some frightened shoppers to hide in stores and call 911 while others ran for the mall exits.
The man suspected of attempting to steal the jewelry was seriously injured by gunshot. He remained in the hospital on December 3. Police have yet to provide an update on his condition or whether anyone is facing charges in the shooting.
The mall made the decision to acquire a Southern Coast K9 security dog and send one of its security guards to the company’s premises after the Black Friday shooting, Kahn said on Monday.
Two other incidents involving guns were reported in the weeks that followed, including an altercation between two groups of people in the mall’s food court on December 8, in which a man was assaulted and a woman was assaulted. handgun and a wallet were stolen, N&O reported.
More recently, on Sunday afternoon, police from Durham intervened in the shopping center parking lot after receiving a report of a suspicious person with a gun. Officers received a report of gunfire upon arrival, but did not hear any shots themselves, Lt. Jackie Werner said in an email Sunday evening.
No injuries were reported and officers were unable to locate any suspects, police said.
Opened on Fayetteville Road just south of Interstate 40 in 2002, Southpoint spans over 1.3 million square feet of retail space and provides thousands of jobs at more than 170 retailers.
“The center is proud to be a hub for the community, and it’s a privilege that is taken seriously,” Kahn said.
This story was originally published 20 December 2021 4:17 pm.