Mall Cops: Mall of America

Caleb does TV blogging that is only tangentially related to firearms.  I sat down and watched an episode of this truly dreadful show last night.  I am not kidding, there is a TV that is dedicated to the rent-a-cops servicing the Mall of America.  Now look, mall security is important and I’m sure mall cops provide a valuable service (although I’ve never utilized it, whatever it is).  The problem is that mall cops aren’t cops.  I found myself watching the show and every time they would detain someone, I’d end up yelling at the TV “and then you wait for the real police!”  Plus, every time one of the rent-a-cops would use the word “arrest”, my brain would die a little bit.  Mall cops can’t arrest you.  They’re not real cops.  Unless your mall is one of those malls that has actual sworn, armed police officers in it, mall security cannot arrest you.  In fact, they can’t even detain you if you don’t want to be detained!  The worst that mall security can do to you is ask you to leave the mall premises.  Which, if you don’t do, they can call the cops.  The real cops.  With badges and guns.  The real cops who can actually arrest you.

Thus, I’m watching this last night, and the mall security guys detain some dude.  I’m almost yelling at the screen, because this guy is just standing there, allowing himself to be detained.  I wanted to shout “DUDE JUST LEAVE THEY CAN’T DO ANYTHING TO YOU” because the guy in question had not committed a crime.  He was just a weird dude that was using the free makeup samples on himself.  Which is certainly weird, but not a crime.

The moral of the story?  Unless you’re actually committing a crime, mall security can’t do diddly to you.  I hate this show, because the last thing we need is more rent-a-cops with a sense of authority and entitlement that they didn’t earn acting like petty dictators when they get a tiny bit of power.  Although I will say this about the Mall of America security staff – they’re about 100000% more professional than any TSA screener I’ve ever encountered.


  1. I don’t know what MN law is but in most states under the “shopkeepers privilege” security guards can detain you. In a few states they also have powers of arrest.

  2. Right, but the shopkeeper’s privilege only applies if you’ve done something that a real cop could detain you for as well. Just being creepy isn’t a sufficient reason to be detained. Also remember, if mall security asks you to “come with them”, you’re within your rights to say “no, I’m going to leave the mall instead and you’re free to escort me out.” Actually, Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation of shopkeeper’s privilege.

    In some jurisdictions of the United States, the courts recognize a common law shopkeeper’s privilege, under which a shopkeeper is allowed to detain a suspected shoplifter on store property for a reasonable period of time, so long as he has cause to believe that the person detained in fact committed, or attempted to commit, theft of store property.

  3. TSA screeners deserve better than being compared to mall security. It is not the screeners fault they are saddled with incompetent management from the director of Homeland Security through their management chain of command.

  4. I worked for 2 different security companies here in MN and their training made a point that you can absolutely NOT arrest someone unless a felony has been committed in your presence.

    Voluntarily going with a security officer is up to you. But if a “security officer” detains someone against their will when no clear felony has been committed is clear grounds for a civil lawsuit that the “security officer” will loose.

  5. Having never been a security guard, but having been a cop for the last 25 years, I have often had occasion to interact with security at various retail establishments, such as bars/nightclubs, large department stores, grocery stores, and yes, a mall or two. The level of prefessionalism varies widely in most of those types of businesses, from barely literate to knowledgeable and competent.

    I first learned of the “Mall Cop” show over at Tam’s and linked over to the show’s website to peruse a few snippits. I have little tolerance for SG’s who think they are police of some sort, but they do serve a fairly important function in the whole retail scheme of things. Without them, many retailers would be subject to having their entire inventory carried off before we could get there in a shoplifting type scenario. They can also be helpful in a “peacekeeping” function from time to time.

    Before just blowing off a security guard in a given situation, I would brush up on my local laws, so that I didn’t end up making a bad situation worse, particularly when we arrive and find out how “uncooperative” you have been. There are situations, particularly when you are suspected of theft, when it does not have to rise to the level of a felony for store personnel or security to legally detain you until police arrive. If you become combative or assaultive in order to evade that detention, it’s just going to go downhill for you when we get there.

    If you are totally innocent, cooperate, and when we get there and let you go, maybe you have a lawsuit if they cannot show why they suspected you of a crime. If you don’t and end up assaulting security or store personnel, guess who has the lawsuit now.

  6. Consumerist runs stories from time to time of people who blow the bag check behind the register line – the one where there’s the guy who checks your receipt against the cart or bag. Some stores have it in their membership agreements that you must submit, but most don’t have any indication or signage.

    This has led to the bag checkers and/or other employees of the stores committing torts or assaults…

  7. Wow u need to research things more before u make ignorant statements such as this. Mall security can arrest u, arrest meaning a seizure or forcible restraint. MOA security does allow thier officers more authority than most malls such as arrest authority. Security guards have a lot more authority than most people think but are often limited by their employer

    1. A non-sworn person can only affect a citizen’s arrest, regardless of whatever pretend badges they’re wearing. Even Mall of America does not have a legal right to detain me UNLESS I have clearly committed a crime or there is reasonable suspicion that I have committed a crime. And even in that event, the mall security still has to wait for the real police to show up.

  8. You say MOA gives their guards authority to arrest, but who gives MOA authority. They are not a government agency. Like someone else mentioned they work on citizens arrest and do have to know you have committed a crime. But anyone can do that. People just not fluent enough in their local laws to know that.

  9. First, let’s show a little respect to those that are trying to do honest day’s work, as the “Mall Cops” obviously are.

    Also, I find it amusing when “real” cops look down at “rent-a-cops”. Then the real cops get all upset when the state police look down on them.

    I’m not saying anyone here did that, but it is amusing nevertheless.

    And one more thing. In the state where I live (PA), private security are sometimes sworn in as police officers.

    Examples would be railroad police and amusement park police. They have all the powers any other cop would have.

  10. You sir, sound like you have an authority complex. Due to the recent economy I am in school for Law enforcement and am working a side job as a security guard. I was a paramedic for 7 years before starting my own business. I don’t enjoy working for little pay and no respect, zero, zilch. I don’t fancy myself a cop but I am going to do my job, no matter how much people degrade me for it. There are three kinds of people, the ones who could care less about you (security guard) make up the majority. A very small minority that want to identify with you and appreciate you (mostly store owners). Then the sizable bunch who just want to tear you down for the job you do.

    Everyone thinks they have the right to park in the fire lane, its just for a minute right. Here comes this “rent-a-cop” telling me to move my vehicle. Who do you think the fire marshal would side with? Just the other day I had a vehicle in the fire lane, when the guy came out I had already called the PD to give him a ticket. He pleaded with me and it was clear this guy was down on his luck and trying to do his best. I stepped aside and let him leave. When I called to cancel PD the dispatcher advised me that fire EMS were enrought to that store. Hmmm, do you think he should be in the fire lane blocking access when someone inside might need that ambulance?

    The other day I caught hell from a couple while parked behind someones car. “What, someone break the rules?” /insert sarcastic voice. Well, I was trying to find the owner because they had locked their dog in the car with the windows up and it was 90 some degrees out. Most animal lovers would think that was prudent. When I am driving through the parking lot slowly and looking in cars….Im not trying to monitor or bust people. I’m looking for kids that might have been locked in the car for whatever reason. It has happened at my post before. When I chastise people for driving carelessly through the walk way in front of stores its because we had a 4 y/o boy hit and killed there once, before we had that post. Because someone didn’t want to wait for that taxi that was parked in the fire lane to move so they speed around him.

    Yes, the level of profesionalism does vary greatly and I have only seen a little bit of the show in question but they seem to be professional. It’s not a glamorous job by any means, as a matter of fact its very boring. If you would like to come out and commit a crime at my post I am more than happy to arrest you. Yes, arrest you, I have the citizens arrest forms and they will be filled out for the police when they arrive. Every arrest I have made has been generated from one of the stores on our site. Well over 90% of the time they got them on cammera commiting the crime and we recover the merchandise.

    Oh, lets see. We also carry a medical bag for minor incidents as a service for the patrons as well as tools to unlock your vehicle if you lock yourself out. But hey, Im just a jerk cop wanna be right.

  11. Way to go Eric. I have nothing but respect for you guys and everyone who does similar jobs. I don’t know but State police usually doesn’t look down at the regular police. They’re all the same. Its just a different job. I work for the state but nor am I state police or city police. The only reason we get respect is that we carry guns. In retrospect my wife works in a hospital where they don’t carry guns but they work much harder than we do and deal with much more disorder. Either way there’s no respect from the public. But lots of arrest are done.

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