INDIANAPOLIS — Stung by recent coverage of the most recent Castleton Square Mall shooting and reflecting a change in corporate philosophy regarding disclosure of its internal security efforts, Simon Property Group afforded FOX59 News a rare behind-the-scenes look at its nationwide Operational Intelligence Center in Indianapolis that keeps a watchful eye on shoppers from coast-to-coast.
The Indianapolis-based property management group operates more than 200 shopping malls in North America.
”This is our community. Indianapolis is where we started,” said John Rulli, Chief Administrative Officer for the Simon Group. “We’ve generally kept things quiet because we didn’t want people to know our security programming. We didn’t want the bad guy to understand the capabilities that we had and the fact that we see them, we watch them, we catch them, but we’ve decided to change that philosophy and let our community know that we’re out ahead of it, what we need to do to win and will continue to invest and extend additional technologies until we get to the point where people feel really comfortable that the bad guy stops coming to do bad things on any of our properties.”
“Bad things” have happened four times since mid-summer of 2022 on two prime Simon properties in the Indianapolis area.
Last July, a gunman took three lives before another armed shopper killed him at Greenwood Park Mall.
At that same mall, just before Christmas, a man with a gun fired off shots in the parking lot.
In early January, one man was killed and another wounded by an armed man in the parking lot at Castleton Square Mall after mistaking his car for their own.
Police have arrested that gunman.
Last month, a man was arrested when he was wounded after a starting a gunfight just outside of the mall’s front doors.
”On July 17th when I was enroute to the active shooter incident, I was already on the phone with the vice president of security for Simon Properties giving him an update on what I had known,” said Greenwood Police Chief James Ison, “and he’s giving me an update on what he had and we were already coordinating those efforts to get people on the scene so we could use security footage right away, get access to locked doors and corridors of the mall.”
That cooperation was replicated on the northside of Indianapolis earlier this year at Castleton Square.
“The shooting that we had in this parking lot, all of that was captured on video and that helped lead our detectives to the facts and help us make an arrest in that case and many cases that just happen to happen here,” said IMPD Assistant Chief Chris Bailey.
Behind closed doors at Castleton Square are three command centers where Simon security operatives watch surveillance cameras and monitor data from properties across the United States, the unseen eyes and ears on mall safety augmented by frontline security.
”Within a particular property, we may have 10, 15 security guards, 5, 6, 7 police officers, smart cameras watching the property with OIC operatives and then yet there, 30, 40, 50 , 60 loss prevention people with the retailers that are also engaged in some sort of security,” said Rulli. ”We are always prepared for what could happen on our properties. We have all the different programming in place to protect our people and if a bad guy shows up, we’re gonna see him. We’ve had instances where things have happened at our properties and we have caught them and those individuals have been arrested because our capability is so extensive and our cooperation with local police departments is so comprehensive that, don’t come to the mall and break the law. You’re going to be caught. Especially if it’s a Simon Mall.”
Indianapolis is Simon’s home base and Castleton Square is the nerve center of its national security operation.
FOX59 News has been given rare access to that center and will bring you that story tomorrow.