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Local theaters plan to increase security this weekend

Friday, July 20, 2012 - 2:15pm

The number of those injured in the Colorado movie theater massacre continues to rise. So far, there are 71 reported injuries, including a Baton Rouge woman who was shot in the knee.

It’s a tragedy no one expected, but has those working in movie theaters across the country examining its security policies. Here in Baton Rouge, plans are being set in place to do just that over the weekend.

“Our priority is always safety first for our customers and for our staff,” Roger Black, Director of Operations at Grand Cinema theater on O’Neal Lane, said. “We use professional security forces…typically we have two…we are planning on adding more officers on duty this weekend.”

Like many businesses in Baton Rouge, Grand Cinema, which is independently owned, employs extra-duty officers to work a private security detail. In the case of Grand Cinema, they utilize deputies provided by the sheriff’s office. Other theaters employ officers with the Baton Rouge Police Department.

“There are two theaters within city limits that we provide extra-duty officers for,” Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, Baton Rouge Police Department, explained. “Our officers on regular patrol would not be assigned to be stationary at the theater. It’s up to the business to let us know if they need any increase in security.”

Security details are generally stationed outside of theaters. This weekend, however, Grand Cinema plans to exercise a greater level of caution for those walking through the doors.

“We will do auditorium checks, door checks, make sure all of our exits are closed properly like they should be,” Black noted. “We also want customers to be aware that we do not allow anybody with a mask to come in. So if you plan on wearing a Batman costume or some other costume with a cape, you can expect to be looked at before you’re allowed in to the theater. Of course, backpacks and bags are subject to search.”

All of the extra precaution is to make sure something like what happened in Colorado, doesn’t ever happen here in Baton Rouge.

“We want to maintain a safe environment for customers and hopefully people will still come out,” Black said when asked if he feared a decrease in business this weekend. “This is something that brings joy to people’s lives. It’s an escape from reality. It’s fun and we want to make sure we do everything to maintain that.”

NBC33’s Brix Fowler will have much more on this story coming up on NBC33 News at 5:00 p.m.

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