Friday, November 28, 2008

Police open mall office

Hickory Hollow work station helps recruiting, safety By Suzanne Normand Blackwood • THE TENNESSEAN • November 28, 2008 The Metro Police Department and Hickory Hollow Mall recently celebrated a partnership that would make police presence at the mall permanent. The celebration recognized the opening of the Metro Police Department Recruiting Center/Office Work Station inside the mall. The center is on the upper level of the Sears wing across from the mall's food court. "Any time you have police visibility, it's a good thing," said Mayor Karl Dean, who attended the celebration. "We've always been concerned about protecting the residents of Antioch, but this is a visible demonstration of that concern." Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas said it serves as a good example of "how we're going to continue to build safety in Antioch." The center will be used for recruitment and will provide space where officers can complete reports and do administrative duties. Mall manager Matt Leiser said police would be handing out recruitment literature throughout the day and answering questions concerning law enforcement careers. They also have a television monitor that will show recruitment videos throughout the day. "It gives the police department the opportunity to interface with the youths," Leiser said. "The more interaction they can have with the youth, the better." Leiser said the mall has gotten positive feedback from people who are aware of the center. Phyllis Richardson, 76, said she and her husband James, 80, frequently visit the mall just to get out of the house. Her husband is disabled. "It's good for him," she said. "We eat lunch here three or four times a week." Richardson said having police presence at the mall on a permanent basis makes her feel safer. However, she said, she feels that the mall's management and employees have done a good job at keeping the mall safe already. One day her husband fell, and some of the employees from Styles barbershop helped him up, she said. Richardson said she has friends who work at the mall who talk about crime in the area. "I'm cautious," she said. But, she added, it's not just Hickory Hollow. Other malls have problems with crime, too, she said.

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