Officials working to improve security measures at Morgantown Mall

MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV)-- "We have a lot of people up there, whether they are sleeping in their car or they're hanging out there doing something," said Westover Police Chief Richard Panico. "It seems like we've had an uptick."

The Westover Police Department is working to make Morgantown Mall safer for shoppers and employees by trying to increase security measures.

At the recent Westover city council meeting, Westover Chief of Police Richard Panico said that officers have been called out to the Morgantown mall several time. Panico says he wants to work with the mall to change their security measures.

"We've went up and did our own physical security check and we've actually been able to gain entrance into the mall from several outside locations even interior to the stores in the mall," Panico said.

Panico says that there aren't any security checks when it comes to the doors locking. Panico says it can cause some problems especially at this time of the year.

"Breaking and entering is up there, we've had a lot of shoplifting going on," Panico said.

Panico says they've responded to these situations by sending officers in plain clothes up to the mall trying to help out and work proactively.

"What we really need now is a working relationship with the mall itself," Panico said.

Along with training, Panico says other measures include getting security officials into the format of being a pro-active security force at the mall.

"They should be visible, uniforms should be neat and clean, they should present an appearance that will slow somebody down based on that uniform," Panico said.

Panico says that he is worried with the lack of the mall's response to incidents which could result in a bigger situation if something isn't done.

"If you don't have a strong presence in a place where people are together, then that leaves you available or open to a potential where somebody is going to come up there and do something stupid," Panico said.

Panico hopes that security measures will change to help keep the community safe and advises the public to observe a situation and report it.