By Christiane Cordero

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Black Friday kicks off the busiest time of the year at the Mall of America. While much of the focus is on retail and entertainment, security helps things run smoothly.

The Mall of America has 170 officers on staff—more than the Bloomington Police Department, which has 124. The mall has its own training area for up-and-coming officers, where they learn fundamental skills like negotiation tactics and CPR.

Each trainee goes through 500 hours of training before taking a call on their own. The industry standard is between 40-80 hours.

“We have to have people who are independent thinkers, who can problem solve, make decisions and stay flexible,” Security director Will Bernhjelm said. “Because not every situation is black and white. So we provide this over-the-top training to give them those tools to be successful on the floor.”

Of the 170 officers on staff, 10 of them work with K-9s. The dogs have to be comfortable with kids, strollers, going up and down escalators, walking by roller coasters, and, of course, finding a threat when there is one.

“We host over 500 events a year here, so they’re used to working around a lot of people, so to them it’s just another day,” said K-9 Training Lt. Neil Throndsen. “A lot of it is interacting with guests, because we do a lot of that. Otherwise, we check a lot of unattended bags and vehicles so we make sure they’re good at their job.”

Throndsen said the training typically starts when the dogs are one year old. It’s a 12-week course, and they get continuous training beyond that.

Christiane Cordero

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