By Carlie Kollath Wells/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Stores are responsible for providing their own crowd control measures Thursday and Friday, according to the Tupelo Police Department.
Capt. Rusty Haynes said officers will be patrolling during the shopping frenzy, but they are responsible for keeping the entire city safe.
“Most stores do put out requests for help with additional security with off-duty officers,” he said Monday.
The holiday shopping season traditionally begins on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, but several stores are opening Thursday.
Last year, police had to intervene at Old Navy’s midnight opening. Customers said they were getting pressed against the glass windows and doors, so they called 911 for help. The store didn’t have security personnel because they called in sick, according to the manager.
Four police units responded. Old Navy delayed its opening until officers calmed the crowd.
Haynes wasn’t aware if Old Navy had requested help this year.
After the police got involved last year, Old Navy General Manager Sherri Lindsey said the store would handle things differently in the future, namely through security that would enforce the line.
A spokesperson from Gap Inc., Old Navy’s parent company, on Monday confirmed the store will have security for its midnight opening Thursday.
“Customer and employee safety remains a top priority,” said Edie Kissko of Gap Inc. “We have put comprehensive plans in place, including additional security staff, to ensure a smooth and pleasant shopping experience for our customers.”
Haynes said it’s even more important this year for stores to provide their own security because more stores are opening at midnight Thursday. Last year, store openings were more staggered in the Barnes Crossing area.
“I hope they have laid on some extra security themselves because we’ve got an entire city” to keep safe, he said.