Police beef up security at Trumbull, Milford malls: ‘Be vigilant,' they say

No specific terrorist threats have been made against the Westfield Trumbull mall, but local police and other agencies are taking steps to ensure safety there, according to Trumbull Police Lt. Leonard Scinto.

The Washington Post reported that a video released Saturday and purported to be from the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab called for attacks on malls in the United States, Canada and Britain.

The video used footage of the 2013 attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya by Al-Shabaab and specifically mentioned the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.; West Edmonton Mall in Canada; and Westfield mall in Stratford, England, among others, as potential targets.

The Trumbull mall, like the one mentioned in England, is also owned by the Australia-based Westfield Corp.

“The Trumbull police, along with the management of the Westfield Trumbull shopping mall, are aware of the current threats made by terrorist organizations,” Lt. Scinto said in a release.

Taking steps to ensure safety

Even though no specific threats have been made, Trumbull Police Department officials said they, with Westfield management and other law enforcement agencies, are taking steps to ensure a safe and secure shopping environment.

“Some of these steps will be visible and others will not,” the Trumbull police said. “It is important for everyone to be vigilant and report any activity they feel is suspicious as soon as possible.”

At the Westfield Connecticut Post mall in Milford, local police have also said no direct threats have been made but they also are taking steps to ensure safety.

Simulated attack training exercise

Trumbull police had the opportunity last May to use the mall for training purposes. Local police, working with the FBI and Connecticut State Police, staged a large-scale training exercise simulating a complex attack at the Westfield mall, after the mall’s operating hours.

It was one of the first drills the FBI conducted statewide and nationwide as part of a final phase of the “Complex Mall Attack Initiative” to promote preparedness.

At the time, Deputy Trumbull Police Chief Glenn Byrnes said the mall is a crucial area.

“We have worked with the mall for many years now and emergency management has worked with the mall to ensure all precautions are taken on a regular basis,” Byrnes said last May. “This was going well beyond that.

“The mall is one of our biggest areas of concern with the largest population at any given time,” Barnes said. “By working together it prepares us for any type of event.”

Kate Czaplinski is the editor of the Trumbull Times, another Hersam Acorn newspaper and website. She previously was editor of the Shelton Herald.