This holiday season staying safe is a top priority with many shoppers. Not only is it the time of year when thieves go to work, but shoppers have those terrorist attacks in Paris on their minds, as well.
Malls and shopping outlets have been beefing up security, like at Nashville West where there will be increased police patrols starting Thursday.
Last year, folks started gathering in lines at Opry Mills just after lunch on Thanksgiving looking to take advantage of bargains.
The Metro Police Department has been set to deploy extra officers in helicopters, on horses, and on bicycles to watch mall parking lots and big events.
“If you see something suspicious, flag down an officer,” said Preston Brandimore, of the police department. “That's what we'll be out there for. If you see a car that's circling the lot several times and there are unoccupied parking spots, flag down an officer and bring that to their attention.”
Officers will be flying helicopters beginning Friday. Metro has a fleet of six birds to watch for trouble from the air.
“It gives us the ability to radio the uniformed and plain-clothed officer on the ground if we see something suspicious,” said Kurt Knapp, of the police department.
Some malls, like Opry Mills, have hired off-duty officers to watch for trouble in the mall.
Shoppers may see portable surveillance cameras at Opry Mills and at retail areas in Madison.
At Nashville West Shopping Center, special duty officers will begin working Thursday afternoon.
Three shifts of flex officers and bicycle patrols have been scheduled to join them Friday. Police will be working overtime all over the city.
Not only will it be a busy weekend for shoppers, but also for police officers who have warned they can't do it all by themselves.
“It's not just what the police department is doing, it's what the local businesses are doing that they're stepping up and taking part in being a solution,” Brandimore said. “It's citizens stepping up. If they see something, say something.”
This holiday season, that advice may be the most important precaution a shopper can take.