Standard police presence planned at local theaters

Local police departments with theaters in their communities aren’t planning on beefing up security after the Colorado shootings that killed a dozen and injured more than 70 during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

That doesn’t mean there won’t be a police presence.

Theaters in Everett and Lynnwood, for instance, often hire off-duty police officers.

“They are in police department uniform and the theaters pay for that,” Lynnwood police spokeswoman Shannon Sessions said.

“I haven’t heard of anything being beefed up at this point, but we have had off-duty police officers work in theaters,” Everett police Sgt. Ryan Dalberg said.

The National Association of Theatre Owners, the organization that includes more than 30,000 movie screens across the country, said that it would ultimately be up to individual theater companies to make decisions about new or permanent security policies, according to the Associated Press. Even though there will be heightened security at some theaters this weekend, industry officials said it should be noted that there are always security measures in place, even if they aren’t immediately visible, the Associated Press reported.

In Monroe, police said people should report safety concerns, but there are no plans to deploy officers.

“I am not aware of anything we are going to be doing differently,” although patrol officers routinely check the theater parking lots, Monroe Police Department spokeswoman Debbie Willis said.

Events involving one person acting alone are hard to predict, she said.

She pointed to the January 2011 rampage in Tucson, in which Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head while meeting constituents at a supermarket. Six people were killed and 13 others were injured. The suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, has been receiving mental health treatment before he can be ruled competent to stand trial.

“It gets to a point where you have a risk whenever you have a public gathering,” Willis said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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