Members of the BBCA expressed concerns over mall security to representatives from both the 63rd Precinct and the mall’s management, who attended the Tuesday meeting.
Teens descended on the mall on Dec. 27 and Feb. 17, and after the February incident, two police officers from the 63rd Precinct were reassigned to patrol the mall from Thursday through Saturday. During the other four days of the week, one officer patrols the mall.
While little damage was incurred during either incident, footage of fights breaking out among teens and security officers in December went viral on YouTube, and two teens were arrested for obstruction after the most recent flash mob.
It has been estimated that 300 teens stormed the mall in December and over 100 raided the mall again a few weeks ago. The NYPD reported that all of the youth were between 13 and 16 years old.
Deputy Inspector John Rowell, commanding officer of the 63rd Precinct, attended the meeting and said he felt that the police were much more prepared for the mob in February than they were just a couple of months prior.
He attributed the early shutdown of the second incident to their close monitoring of social media. Rowell said police found out about the flash mob through Facebook and were ready to kick the teens out as soon as they arrived.
“We managed to turn what could have been a similar situation to December into much less of a news and media incident,” Rowell said.
Rowell said that two teens were arrested after they refused to cooperate and leave the mall when they were asked.
After Rowell spoke, BBCA President Michael Benjamin introduced representatives from Macerich, the company that owns Kings Plaza Mall, to address the community’s questions and concerns.
“We need you to implement a serious plan,” Benjamin said before handing over the floor. “People want to feel safe.”
Macerich Vice President Don Pott stood up and spoke about some of the measures that are currently being taken to improve the mall’s security, including adding more cameras and lights and redoing the parking garage.
Those changes are currently underway, and senior property manager Steven DeClara estimated the work will be completed by the 2014 holiday season, though they are not officially slated to be finished until next February.
Pott’s reassurances, however, did not assuage all of the community members’ fears.
Linda Howe, who has lived in Brooklyn her entire life, told Pott that without improved security, she would no longer shop at Kings Plaza.
“It’s not safe and your security is terrible,” Howe said.
She also accused Pott, who emphasized that no one was hurt and nothing was stolen during either of the flash mobs, of downplaying the severity of the situation.
“You guys are downplaying it, ‘Oh, it was a bunch of kids fighting,’” Howe said. “It wasn’t a bunch of kids fighting. It was a bunch of unruly teenagers that forced stores to stop doing business in the middle of the day. Their gates had to be pulled down and people were kept inside for their own safety. That’s downplaying it.”
Pott said that Macerich policy did not allow him to go into the specifics of all of their security plans, but he assured the BBCA members that improved safety was being addressed by Kings Plaza’s management.
“Our goal is to make the mall better, including if part of that means improving security,” Pott said.