Promising Practice:
Metropolitan Nashville PD Relies on Established Relationships
in Responding to Mall Shooting


[Logo] Metro Nashville Police Department

In May 2018, a dispute in the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville led to a shooting of one person, causing mall patrons to either evacuate or hide inside of stores.  The initial 9-1-1 calls were for an active shooter situation and Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) units expected a mass casualty incident while to responding to the scene. 

The Opry Mills Mall is a sizeable complex that has over 200 stores, a movie theater, and restaurants. Several of the responding supervisors were familiar with the layout of the mall, the multiple points of entry and exit, and importantly, the mall management and security teams.  This was because the police had previously trained with mall security and management on responding to a critical incident within the mall.    

Entrance to Opry Mills mall in Nashville, TNBased on the training, a MNPD sergeant knew to immediately go to the mall control room. He worked with the mall management and security team to help organize the MNPD response to the shooting.  The police department had also trained with the fire department and paramedics which allowed for a more coordinated and smoother response to what was initially thought to be a mass casualty event.  

Upon arrival, there was miscommunication between mall management and the MNPD on whether there was a single master key to unlock every store in the mall. However, given their familiarity with one another, sergeants were able to communicate with mall management the specifics of what they were requesting and were able to get the individual keys to each store.  Then, locksmiths and SWAT members paired up to unlock each store in the mall and search for additional suspects and/or survivors.  

Pre-planning and proactive communication from sergeants were essential during this incident. Had the MNPD not trained with the Opry Mills Mall’s management and security personnel, supervisors reported that their response to the critical incident would have been much slower. It took a long time to conduct a complete security sweep of all of the mall’s stores, but supervisors said that because they had already established relationships with important mall employees and knew the layout which helped ensure a safe and timely response.

IMAGE: Soulbust - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 [Source]

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