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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast



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We could put metal detectors at every door of every building we enter, but it's not practical, it's not fool proof, and it's not what we really want anyway.

I'm motivated to write this entry by the tragedy that occurred in Nebraska this week. Some guy went nuts in a shopping mall in Omaha and killed eight people, and then turned the gun on himself.

Whenever something like this happens, we in the news do what the consultants call "localize." In other words, we take a major story happening somewhere else, and try to find how it may relate to or affect viewers in our area. The immediate question we always ask is, "Could it happen here?"

It's just what we do, and really in this case it seemed a fair question. The same company that owns the mall out in Omaha owns Mayfair in Wauwatosa. It's conceivable that if the company examines its security proceedures again, it could affect shoppers here.

So our reporters asked folks out at Mayfair (and really it could have been any mall) about the security situation. We tried to survey people on their thoughts about how safe they feel at the mall, and whether they'd give up a few liberties in exchange for greater security.

An interview with a shopper beautifully captures the conflict I know so many of us feel. We asked a guy named Shawn out at Mayfair his thoughts about security at the mall.

"I don't think they have enough security. I think people need to be safer. I've been hearing about people getting robbed in parking lots and things of that nature. I don't think it's half as safe as it probably should be."

Okay, fair enough. So then we follow up, asking Shawn, how about metal detectors... getting your bags searched...

"Yeah. I think that would make people feel uncomforatable, like their rights are being taken away or something."

Thought so.

So we don't feel safe, yet we don't want the inconvenience or the invasion of increased security. 

We've wrestled with these issues quite a bit since 9/11 haven't we? We keep asking if we'd agree to more intense security and invasions of privacy if it meant feeling safer. We've asked it at the airport. We've asked it in government buildings. We've asked it at sporting venues.

The tragedy at the mall in Omaha tells us a couple of things. First, we're never 100 percent safe anywhere. Second, we still aren't sure how to answer the questions about safety and privacy. 






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