In the wake of mass shootings, tourism and shopping destinations are footing huge bills to ensure the safety of customers. How much security is enough?
It’s not easy — nor is it cheap — for businesses to keep their customers safe these days.
As Americans are witnessing an ever-growing list of deadly mass shootings by “lone-wolf” attackers within U.S. borders, businesses that attract large groups of people, like malls and theme parks, are pouring money into security measures they hope will keep their patrons out of harm’s way.
The country is still reeling from the most recent attack of this kind by a shooter who killed 50 people and injured 53 others at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Before that were the 2015 San Bernardino shooting that ended with 16 dead and 21 injured and the 2012 movie theater shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured in Aurora, Colorado.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the amusement park industry already spends about $250 million annually on security, but that number is expected to skyrocket by more than $100 million over the next few years.
After the June 12 shooting in Orlando, home to Disney World, the Walt Disney Co. hiked its security efforts, Reuters reports.
“Unfortunately we’ve all been living in a world of uncertainty, and during this time we have increased our security measures across our properties, adding such visible safeguards as magnetometers, additional canine units, and law enforcement officers on site, as well as less visible systems that employ state-of-the-art security technologies,” Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler said in an email statement to Reuters.
Last December, Universal Studios Hollywood, SeaWorld and Disneyland installed metal detectors outside their entry gates.
The rising price of security
The LAT said businesses are being forced to shoulder a heavy burden as they attempt the difficult task of identifying and thwarting attacks by lone actors:
American companies were already spending about $341 billion on security in 2014, more than three times as much as they did in 1990, after adjusting for inflation, according to ASIS International, a professional group for security personnel. The group said that since 2013, companies have been spending about 10 percent more on security each year.
Closed-circuit cameras alone have become an $8 billion industry, about 17 times larger than it was two decades ago.
When you consider that nearly half of the active-shooter incidents that have occurred since 2000, in which a gunman is trying to kill people in a confined, populated area, have happened at a place of business, it makes sense that businesses are pouring more money into security, which varies from armed guards to bomb-sniffing dogs to video camera surveillance.
In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, major U.S. theme parks in both California and Florida were quick to beef up their security, including prohibiting the sales of toy guns at their parks, barring guests over age 14 from wearing costumes and implementing random secondary screenings for some visitors, Reuters reports.
Although some of the security measures may deter some crime, if the United States wanted to provide Americans the most safety from shootings and acts of terrorism, the effort would bump up against freedoms that many Americans take for granted. The LAT gives Israel as an example of a country where extreme measures are the norm:
In Israel, there are security guards outside every single restaurant, people get their bags checked before walking into a supermarket, and metal detectors are stationed at the gates of shopping centers.
But there’s more that separates the two countries. The entire Israeli population itself is essentially a trained security force.
Just about every man and woman in Israel has served in the military, and they remain on high alert long after their stint as soldiers. A package is not left unattended for more than a few minutes before a civilian notifies law enforcement…
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