Pyramid and GPD announce agreement on increased patrols at mall

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

RID: John Laviano, left, and Adam Myers, Retail Intervention Detail officers, shown during a Christmastime patrol in 2018, were already in Crossgates Mall on a part-time basis and now will be assigned to the mall full-time under a new agreement with Pyramid Management, the mall’s owners. 

GUILDERLAND — Pyramid Management, which owns Crossgates Mall, has come to an agreement with the Guilderland Police on the payment for increasing patrols at the mall. 

Under the agreement, Deputy Chief Curtis Cox told The Enterprise, Pyramid will pay for two new police officers for the town. In return, the police department will expand the hours of two officers who are currently stationed at Crossgates on an as-available basis; investigators John Laviano and Adam Myers will work full-time at the mall.

Guilderland will pay the salaries of Laviano and Myers, who are both now detectives. New hires are paid less. Cox said he did not know just how much the difference is.

Asked about this in an email, Michael Gately, general manager of Crossgates Mall, referred The Enterprise to the Guilderland Police. 

The mall will have the same number of police officers as before, but two of them will now be full-time instead of part-time, Cox said, and the contributions by Pyramid will allow the town to hire two new officers who will fill out the town’s police force. Guilderland has 39 officers, former Chief Carol Lawlor told The Enterprise in December. 

The two officers who will begin to work full-time at the mall were already working there on a “more part-time basis,” said Cox, as the Retail Intervention Detail. In the past, the work of these two officers was not reimbursed by Pyramid; now it will be.

The Retail Intervention Detail was started to help address what Cox in December 2018 called a new problem, of “disruptive shoplifting.” He described a phenomenon in which groups of people, often young, create a distraction in one part of a store, throwing things and yelling, while either they or their associates in another part of the store steal things. The RID officers communicate closely with store owners and employees and with mall security to prevent and respond to these incidents.

Other Guilderland officers patrol common areas at the mall like the food court, Cox explained to The Enterprise earlier. They receive overtime pay, and Pyramid reimburses Guilderland for the cost of their overtime hours at the mall. Cox said this week of those officers, “That enhances our presence at the mall.” 

Several brawls at Crossgates in recent weeks have shone a spotlight on the question of the mall’s safety. (See related story.)

There was one brawl on Christmas Eve and another on Jan. 26, both just before closing, and both caught on video and posted to social media. Another, not filmed and not widely reported, occurred Jan. 11 in Burlington Coat Factory

Cox said this week of the question of the safety of shoppers at Crossgates, “Any time there are large amounts of people, it can always bring with it some problems, just because of the number of people.” 

The problem seems to be, Cox said, “groups of people coming to the mall that seem to be adversarial.” 

Of a recent stabbing, on Feb. 15, Cox said that incident involved “two girls, over a personal issue.” 

 

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