Safety program protects holiday shoppers

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Bossier Sheriff's Office Maj. Charles Gray on patrol as part of the Sheriff’s Safe Shopper Program. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

With it being the Holiday season, a special safety program has been deployed by the Bossier Sheriff’s Office to keep shoppers safe at busy shopping centers this holiday season.

Known as the “Sheriff’s Safe Shopper Program,” the initiative will augment the Armed Robbery Task Force implemented by the Bossier Sheriff’s Office and Bossier City Police Department over the holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving through the end of the year.

Maj. Charles Gray, patrol commander for the Bossier Sheriff’s Office, says Sheriff Julian Whittington realized the need for extra patrol and law enforcement presence at businesses and shopping areas during the holiday season. And they are more then happy to provide Bossier citizens the assurance to feel safe while enjoying their shopping experience.

“We realize the need for extra patrols and law enforcement presence at businesses and shopping areas. And we are more than happy to do so. This is my job and I love it. I want Bossier residents to feel safe,” said Gray.

This holiday season, there are 37 Armed Robbery Task Force officers patrolling and providing safety and security to the citizens of Bossier Parish and Bossier City.

While the Sheriff’s Safe Shopper Program concentrates on the safety of shoppers in parking lots and other busy areas, the Armed Robbery Task Force focuses on protecting stores, businesses, gas stations, and other areas with high probability of robbery.

During an average patrol, Gray is steadily observing people walking to their cars, ensuring they arrive at their vehicles safely.

He also observes people walking in parking lots to make sure no one is looking into vehicles, or pulling on door handles.

“With this program, our deputies focus on areas and parking lots with high shopper presence, providing safety and security to shoppers. We have increased visibility in busy shopping areas to assist shoppers and deter criminal activity,” said Gray.

The Bossier City Police Department’s Armed Robbery Task Force will continue to be present at businesses and shopping centers throughout the holiday shopping season to help deter business armed robberies and other crimes.

The Bossier City Police Department has used its Armed Robbery Task Force each year during the holiday shopping season since 1987.

Maj. Gray offers these tips to help shoppers feel and stay safe:

• Be alert and aware of your surroundings.

• Guard PIN and credit card numbers. If you plan to shop online, use trusted websites and apps.

• When shopping, try to park as close to the stores as possible, and in a well-lit area.

• Keep your car windows and doors locked.

• Never leave packages in plain view inside the vehicle. Store your items in the trunk.