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State Police Make Annual Visit to Mall

The troopers work with mall security, speak with shoppers

State Police were at the Mall at Short Hills on Wednesday, but it wasn't in response to any specific emergency.

The troopers were joined by several Millburn police officers for a Target Hardening Response and Emergency Activation Teams (THREAT) detail. They were handing out information to shoppers about THREAT, which is a "deployment of state, county and local police resources with the mission to mitigate potential terrorist activity."

Sargent Brian Polite, a state police spokesman, said the details are done routinely in areas where there are a lot of people gathered. They include malls, sporting events or other public places.  It provides a uniform presence in those locations, he said.

When a shopper asked a trooper why they were in the mall, they were handed a card asking them to help protect New Jersey. It included a tip line — 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ.

But the exercise also helps the mall in their security efforts.

Michael McAvinue, Mall at Short Hills general manager, said its good to have the presence in the mall during the holiday season, which is when 38 percent of the mall's business is done. "It gives a show of force during our busiest time of year," he said.

But it also allows state police to be more familiar with the property, he said, which is complex. "We have multiple levels, we have a basement, there's back hallways," McAvinue said. "It's a complex property. We give them a tour. It gives (state police) a chance to talk to our security and see our control room ... There's a lot the customer doesn't see."

If there is ever an incident at the mall, he said, the state police would have a relationship with the mall staff and also be familiar with the property. "We can talk on the phone, we can send them diagrams, but it's not until you're physically here you can know (the mall)," he said.

McAvinue said the state police visit the mall once a year. They were .

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