Mall Security Critiqued as Search for Child Abduction Suspect Continues

November 27, 2012

As police search for the suspect accused of trying to abduct a two-year-old at Fashion Square, the community has more questions than answers. There is no name or address for the suspect and many are placing blame with mall security for not doing more. Security experts in Charlottesville say holding a suspect until police arrive is standard procedure.

"If there is a clear crime that's been committed, then you take the responsibility and go the extra mile and detain," said Wes Ephdeniels, of H & H Security Services. The firm handles private security for dozens of businesses in central Virginia, recently adding Barracks Road Shops to the client list. Ephdeniels says calling 911 should have been the top priority in this case.

"Improper training, that's the only thing I can chalk it up to," Ephdeniels said. "It befuddles me why these officers allowed this person to be escorted off the premises."

Private security officers are required to go through a background check every two years before they can be certified to work. Additional training is necessary for armed guards. Virginia law allows private security officers to hold suspects for a reasonable amount of time before law enforcement arrives.

In the case of the attempted abduction, mall security officers escorted the suspect out of the building without getting a name and waited several hours before notifying police. But Albemarle County officials say now isn't the time to focus on what went wrong.

"We are working with mall security to find video surveillance or anything that can help us find and identify this individual," said Carter Johnson, the public information officer for Albemarle County Police. "Right now our main concern is finding out who is responsible for the attempted abduction and making sure this person isn't on the loose so this can't happen again."

Police ask anyone with information to call Crimestoppers at 434-977-4000.

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