Lenox installs weapons screeners to address recent violence (2024)

June Walton walked to the main entry of Lenox Square with a handgun Tuesday morning, but he didn’t enter right away.

After seeing the armed officers and the new weapons detection gateways installed Monday, he returned to his car and dropped off the firearm before doing his shopping.

“There’s a big sign that says no weapons,” he said later. “Obviously, the presence right there, you can see you’re not getting in.”

That is exactly the reaction the Lenox management was hoping for when it increased security to counter a number of violent crimes in and around the mall. The violence reached horrific proportions last week with the shooting near neighboring Phipps Plaza that resulted in the death Saturday of Kennedy Maxie, a 7-year-old girl.

Lenox already had more than 200 security cameras, describing itself as “one of the most surveilled environments in Atlanta.” It also has about two dozen security enforcers on hand at any given moment, many of them off-duty Atlanta police officers.

The mall is trying to augment this without seeming too obtrusive. The new weapons detectors, monitored by armed officers and private guards, are located only at the main entrance so far as Lenox tests the technology. The developer named its new security product “Express” because it is meant to scan as many as 3,600 people per hour. Security only gets involved when the system detects a threatening object.

The system was created by a Boston company whose founders were nearby when bombers struck the city’s famous marathon in 2013. Evolv Technology says it harnesses radio waves, magnetic fields and artificial intelligence to detect guns, as well as knives and shrapnel in bombs, without the nuisance of magnetic wands or the intrusion of pat-downs.

It is legal to carry a firearm in Georgia, but property owners can dictate their own rules. The delicate task of educating shoppers about that distinction falls to the employees of Lenox manager Robin Suggs. “Many people have the belief that they can carry a weapon anywhere, and that’s certainly not the case,” she said.

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The doorway scanner is a reaction to an “unprecedented” and “entirely unacceptable” crime wave that is “plaguing” Atlanta, she said.

Lenox isn’t the only venue with obvious security. An armed sheriff’s deputy was stationed outside an entry to Phipps Tuesday. At Atlantic Station, closer to the city center and the site of a recent fight involving hundreds of teens, management has brought in more off-duty police officers, according to a spokeswoman.

The Atlanta area’s spike in mall violence ― police in Dunwoody were investigating a possible fight and armed robbery at the Perimeter Mall Tuesday evening — comes as the pandemic suppresses the number of shoppers. For some mall managers, COVID-19 is just as big a concern. “The main thing is keeping people safe, having all of our attendants in masks,” said Christopher McCoy, the senior general manager of the Cumberland Mall, near the intersection of interstates 285 and 75. He said there hasn’t been a spike in crime there since a shooting a year ago.

At Lenox, Suggs is testing the Evolv detection system and that of a competitor at another entryway. She may eventually secure all the entries to Lenox if the crime spree continues.

“It’s unfortunate it’s what’s needed right now,” she said.

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Lenox installs weapons screeners to address recent violence (2)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Evolv CEO Peter George said his new system is already deployed at numerous high-profile locations, including the Georgia Aquarium and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Museum of Natural History in New York.

He said the Boston bombing was a “catalyst” for the firm‘s founders to develop a system that could scan masses of people without pinch points in lines. His company offers the service on a subscription basis, and right now Lenox is just trying out the basic model. No facial recognition, no thermal imaging to detect fevers. He’d like to expand the relationship and use the company’s artificial intelligence processing with the data captured by the mall’s cameras.

“At some point, if they choose to keep us there — and we hope they do — we’ll be able to integrate into their existing infrastructure, extend the perimeter to different areas into the network,” he said, “so beyond the doorway out into the parking lot and into the mall.”

ExplorePolice increasing patrols at Lenox Square after man shot in Apple store

The screening didn’t bother Walton, the shopper with the handgun. He said he owns a security company and always carries one. He also said he was reluctant to enter the mall until he saw the security at the door. He lives in Los Angeles and said the violence around Lenox is well-known in his security circles there.

Another shopper, Audwin Cash of Brookhaven, dashed into the mall with his 12-year-old son to get the boy’s iPad pencil replaced at the Apple store where a man was shot during a fight last month. The extra scrutiny was “seamless and fast” but also “a little weird,” he said.

Lily Lee, an Atlanta mom toting a toddler, said the screening wasn’t as “intense” as at an airport and made her feel safer. She said it didn’t feel invasive even though the imaging system flagged her backpack for inspection.

She said it contained a couple of eyeglass cases ― and diapers for her son.

Lenox installs weapons screeners to address recent violence (2024)

FAQs

Lenox installs weapons screeners to address recent violence? ›

The new weapons detectors, monitored by armed officers and private guards, are located only at the main entrance so far as Lenox tests the technology. The developer named its new security product “Express” because it is meant to scan as many as 3,600 people per hour.

Are guns allowed in Lenox Mall? ›

Specially trained armed K-9 patrols and CCTV-enabled weapons detection, capable of detecting firearms which are expressly prohibited on property. Individuals flagged by the K-9 unit or through CCTV are approached by APD and directed to immediately leave the property if they are found to be carrying a firearm.

What is AI gun detection? ›

Actuate's AI gun detection software turns your existing security cameras into gun-detecting smart cameras, instantly detecting threats as soon as they emerge. With no hardware integrations required, Actuate saves money and saves lives.

How safe is Lenox mall? ›

Lenox Square Mall security has become fairly intense over the past few years. The mall has its own subdepartment of the Atlanta police, in addition to a private security force and surveillance system. In December of 2020, the mall announced the addition of metal detectors and a K-9 unit.

Do mall cops carry guns? ›

In general, mall security guards, colloquially known as 'mall cops,' typically do not carry firearms. Their role is primarily to maintain order and security within the private property of the mall, which often involves property protection, compliance enforcement of the mall's policies, and general customer service.

How do I get rid of AI detection? ›

Rearrange paragraphs: Changing the order of sections within an article can disrupt the logical flow that AI-generated content often exhibits, making it more difficult for detection tools to identify your work as written by a bot. Use synonyms: Replace some of the words in your text with their synonyms.

How accurate is the AI detector? ›

That said, AI detectors can't guarantee anywhere close to 100% accuracy because they are based in large part on probabilities. Not to mention, each of the detectors use different datasets of content to train them. So, they can often provide different results from one another.

Do AI weapons exist? ›

Autonomous weapons of one kind or another have been around for decades at least, including heat-seeking missiles and even (depending on how autonomy is defined) pressure-triggered landmines dating back to the US Civil War. Now, however, the development and use of AI algorithms is expanding their capabilities.

Can you carry a gun in a mall in Georgia? ›

We know that a weapons carry license holder shall be authorized to carry a weapon in every location in this state not specifically prohibited by statue. You can find that authorization in Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 16-11-127. This includes public locations, banks, restaurants, and even the grocery store.

Can you conceal carry in a mall in Illinois? ›

Am I permitted to carry a concealed firearm in private businesses, including retail stores and malls? Yes and No. Private businesses and mall managment can decide whether to allow concealed carry. They must post signs if concealed carry is not permitted.

Where are guns not permitted in Georgia? ›

Open carry is legal in Georgia only with a Georgia Weapons Carry License (WCL) or a concealed carry permit from a state Georgia honors. Some areas are off-limits, including schools and courthouses.

Can I carry a gun in a mall in Michigan? ›

In Michigan, it is legal for a person to carry a firearm in public as long as the person is carrying the firearm with lawful intent and the firearm is not concealed.

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