HOOVER, Ala. (WBRC) - Four legged security are now on their beat at the Riverchase Galleria. The Vapor Wake K9′s are specially trained dogs that detect weapons and explosives.
Hoover city leaders and mall management believe they will make the Galleria safer for shoppers.
Dogs have a keen sense of smell. Their handlers with Vapor Wake K9 said they have undergone intensive and specialized training to smell out anyone who might be carrying a weapon into the Galleria.
There were two Vapor Wake K9′s at the Galleria Friday afternoon. The dogs have been working security around a week now. One is named Don. The dogs roam the mall at a distance to see if they can pick up the scent of someone who might be carrying a weapon into the Riverchase Galleria. On Good Day Alabama the president of the company said shoppers may not even notice the dogs are there.
“We actually train the dogs to especially trail a great distance behind sampling the heat plume of the particles of the firearm or explosive that would be left in a person’s wake,” said Paul Hammond, President of AWK9.
The Galleria has been working on various ways to improve security for some time. The death of 8-year-old Royta Giles increased the public perception for more security.
Mayor Frank Brocato said there are more security and Hoover Police officers in the mall. “We can put police officers there, but we want to be proactive and having these animals in the Galleria that can detect this is a way to be proactive,” Brocato said.
Hoover plans to put patrol officers in a substation in the mall. The mayor said other security measures are also being taken. Shoppers may notice some measures, but not all.
The dogs are expected to unobtrusive. In a training exercise, the dogs pick up the scent of a gun being carried by a woman. They quickly react and quick action would be taken.
“We will ask that person to go to one side until law enforcement or security officers for further questioning. We certainly don’t want them to proceed into the mall,” Hammond said.
Mayor Brocato said the Riverchase Galleria is safe. He is not giving up on the mall. His family shopped there this week. But he says they must give shoppers a sense of security because the mall is so important to Hoover with the jobs and tax dollars it generates.
The mayor and the mall management reminds anyone who goes to the Galleria: guns are not allowed. If you have a weapon and are discovered, you will be asked to leave. Brocato said gun rights do not apply to the mall since it is private property.