HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) – Friday night marked the official start of the holiday shopping season at the Riverchase Galleria – and with it comes increased security as shoppers prepare to splurge for their loved ones this year.
Starting next Friday, the Hoover Police Department said it will have extra officers working to keep traffic around the Galleria moving during peak shopping hours. You can also expect to see additional officers inside and outside the mall to help keep shopping safe.
“I’m in the spirit for Christmas, but I’m not ready for Christmas yet,” shopper Latasha Leonard said while out celebrating her daughter Paris’ 12th birthday. “This is my first time coming to the mall since COVID. It feels good to be out again.”
Other shoppers like Doug White were out Friday night for their second visit of the day.
“I just decided to come in here and spruce up my wardrobe because I’ve been working from home for a year plus,” Doug said.
Enjoying their nuggets or getting an early start on that shopping list – as extra patrols and K-9’s on standby.
“Just a very visible security presence and just a good time in general to be out in public,” the mall’s Senior General Manager Mike White said.
Vapor Detection K-9’s were added last summer looking for explosives and firearms people might be carrying without being intrusive.
“It’s just another measure we’re taking to keep people safe,” Mike said. “We’ve always had a robust security program with the Hoover Police Department. There have been additional Hoover Police Department Officers that have been assigned here as part of an initiative by the City of Hoover.”
The extra patrols come with extra shoppers.
“I haven’t been thinking about that. I just assume it’s safe. I’ve never been here when it’s not been safe,” Doug said.
Leonard said she noticed the extra security, but it didn’t impact her trip.
“I’m glad they got dogs and stuff because they need all the help, they can get now a days because it’s getting crazy around this Christmas holiday,” Leonard said.
The City of Hoover just passed additional money in its 2022 budget to establish a more permanent presence at the mall and is working to staff those positions.
The mall is closed again this year for Thanksgiving but will be open on Black Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“Online shopping is very popular but there are no shipping delays here at the mall – you can pick it up, try it on, touch and feel it,” Mike said.