K9 gun detector to patrol Southpoint mall and enhance security

The Streets at Southpoint puts a dog on patrol to detect guns after a Black Friday shooting and other incidents of guns brought to the mall.

The German Shepherd 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, spokesperson for the owner of the Brookfield Properties shopping center, told The News & Observer on Monday.

Like all K9 dogs on the South Coast, Cigan was handpicked by a European breeder and trained for five to six months at the company’s facilities outside of Daytona Beach, the president said. company, Bill Heiser, at The N&O.

Cigan was then assigned to his handler, a security officer from Southpoint, who traveled to the Southern Coast K9 facility for an additional four weeks of training in how to handle the dog, Heiser said in an interview. .

Patrick Anderson, Southpoint’s senior managing director, said managers at the mall “share our community’s concerns following recent incidents”, which he says led to the canine safety measure.

“The well-being of all guests, tenants and employees is paramount, especially as we head 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 firearms or illegal weapons, or engaging in “disorderly conduct of any kind”.

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A gun-sniffing German Shepherd named Cigan climbs an escalator during his first patrol at The Streets at Southpoint mall in Durham, North Carolina, with his handler, canine security guard Leo DuPont, the Wednesday, December 22, 2021. Julia Wall [email protected]

How K9s are trained to search 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 nearly three decades, he said, and only chooses dogs that are “sociable, balanced and possess an extreme hunting drive”.

This means that dogs are not distracted by crowds or 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 having a dog with one owner,” Heiser said. “The dog knows the personality of the handler and how he works, and the handler knows the personality of the dog and how he works. If you start adding other people into the mix, it becomes confusing for the dog.

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Cigan, a two-year-old German shepherd trained to detect firearms, wanders the streets of Southpoint with his handler, canine officer Leo DuPont, on his first day on the job at the Durham Mall, in North Carolina, Wednesday, December 22, 2021. Julia’s Wall [email protected]

Shoppers shouldn’t worry about running into Cigan in the mall, Heiser said, because Southern Coast K9 only picks dogs with the right temperament.

If the dog identifies its stimulus, it alerts its handler by breathing more intently and wagging its tail, Heiser said. Dogs are only trained to detect their stimulus and take no further action once they find it.

“The dog’s sole purpose is to alert about it, and then it’s up to the handler to take over from there,” Heiser said.

Kahn, the spokesman for the owner of Southpoint, said canine patrols of the mall have already begun and will focus on common areas inside the mall. The dog will not enter stores unless invited, Kahn said.

Early feedback from customers and retailers who have seen Cigan on the road has been favorable, Anderson said in an interview Monday.

Three incidents involving firearms in recent weeks

The mall’s decision comes amid several incidents in recent weeks, starting with a Black Friday incident on Nov. 26 in which three people were shot.

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Police vehicles gather at the entrance to the streets of Southpoint as officers complete the evacuation of the mall on Black Friday following an afternoon shooting that injured three, including a child 10 years old. Scott Sharp [email protected]

Two men approached a man selling jewelery on the second level when one of them attempted to rob the jewelery seller, Durham Police Department said, leading both the man trying to rob the jewelry and the man who sold them to shoot guns. Several shots were fired, causing some frightened shoppers to hide in stores and call 911 while others ran for the mall’s exits.

The man suspected of trying to steal the jewelry was shot and seriously injured. He remained in hospital on December 3. Police have yet to provide an update on his condition.

On December 23, Durham Police announced that 31-year-old Jaquaay Walton of Virginia is facing a charge of concealed possession of a weapon.

The mall decided to bring in a South Coast K9 security dog ​​after the Black Friday shooting, Kahn said Monday. The mall’s security partner, Allied Universal Security Services, worked with the canine security company to bring in Cigan and send one of its security guards to the Southern Coast K9 facility for training.

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Cigan, a gun-sniffing German Shepherd, stops outside Macy’s department store with his handler, Leo DuPont, during his first patrol at The Streets at Southpoint mall in Durham, North Carolina on Wednesday, 22 December 2021. Julia Wall [email protected]

Two other incidents involving firearms 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 handgun and a wallet were stolen, the N&O reported.

On December 23, Durham Police said Elijah Sauls, 20, faces a charge of carrying a concealed weapon and Messiah Whitted, 19, from Durham and a minor faces disorderly conduct charges while fighting. Additional charges against others who have been identified are possible, police said.

Most recently, on the afternoon of December 19, Durham police responded to the shopping center car park after receiving a report of a suspicious person with a weapon. Officers received a report of gunfire when they arrived, but did not hear any gunshots themselves, Lt. Jackie Werner said in an email late Sunday. No injuries were reported.

On Dec. 23, police also announced that 20-year-old Isaiah Hargro-Burnette of Greensboro is facing charges of being armed to terrorize the public and felony carrying a concealed weapon. Police are looking to identify a second person linked to the incident.

None of the suspects named on Dec. 23 have been arrested, police said.

Opened on Fayetteville Road just south of Interstate 40 in 2002, Southpoint spans more than 1.3 million square feet of retail space and provides thousands of jobs at more than 170 retailers.

“The center prides itself on being a hub for the community, and it’s a privilege that is taken seriously,” Kahn said.

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This story was originally published December 20, 2021 4:17 p.m.

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Avi Bajpai covers breaking news and public safety for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun.

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