By Adam Ganucheau
TUPELO – Something mall shoppers often neglect to think about is their safety, but Security Director Richard Carleton never forgets.
Carleton, a retired Tupelo Police captain, takes his job at The Mall at Barnes Crossing, which he has held for 10 years, very seriously.
“It’s all about keeping the visitors and tenants at the mall safe,” Carleton said. “It’s all about taking care of the people. That’s my passion.”
Carleton’s everyday responsibilities at the mall include basic patrolling, viewing security camera monitors in the security room and leading the mall’s security staff of about 30 officers. For
Carleton, the job is something that he is passionate about.
“When I worked for Tupelo police, I worked on just about everything except investigation and narcotics,” he said. “This is a great job for me because I still get to enjoy meeting people and keeping them safe, just like I did for the department.”
One of Carleton’s most important jobs at the mall is deterring shoplifters from the stores. He said that each store in the mall is responsible for catching a shoplifter, and Carleton then steps in to alert the proper authorities.
“It’s definitely an ongoing thing with shoplifting,” he said. “Typically, we have anywhere from five to ten shoplifters per month. It’s certainly an expensive crime. The fines are much higher than the price of the stolen property.”
According to mall General Manager Jeff Snyder, Carleton plays a vital role in the mall’s everyday operations.
“We have just been thrilled to have Richard on our staff for 10 years now,” Snyder said. “He is great with customers, he is very professional and well-liked. You can tell it’s all about the people for Richard.”
Carleton said the job can be entertaining at times, which helps him stay motivated.
“It’s a pretty big mall, and a lot of customers forget which side they parked on,” he said. “They always think their car has been stolen, but it is always just in another parking lot. I have a little fun with those situations.”
Outside of just law enforcement, some of Carleton’s closest friends and family members believe that his character is what makes him good at his job.
Carleton’s son, Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton, said his father was an important role model for him from an early age and played a huge role in pursuing his own police career.
“My dad cares about Tupelo, and more importantly, he cares about people in general,” the police chief said. “It was so nice to see his qualities of caring about people and serving people from an early age.”