Columbia Police Won't Increase Patrols at Theaters

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department won't increase security at local theaters unless the department receives specific threats at a movie theater. Police Department Public Information Officer Latisha Stroer said today that both theaters in Columbia - Hollywood and Forum 8 - hire off-duty police officers for security.

Officer Stroer said that the police department has trained officers to deal with mass public shootings ever since the tragedy at Columbine.  She said the trainings are real-life simulations with volunteers acting as hostages in real public settings.

Stroer said the most important thing officers can do is to be prepared for anything.

"You prepare as much as you can for something like that to happen and then you also have to mentally prepare for something like that to happen," said Stroer. "When you get a call be prepared for that to happen whenever you get that call."

Hollywood Theaters refused to comment on the situation, but the manager at Forum 8 Theaters said there is always one off-duty police officer on Friday nights and she is thinking about having another officer Saturday night. Manager Amanda Wilson also says staff at the theater will be keeping an extra close eye on people in lines and are discouraging movie goers from wearing masks or costumes. 

While Forum 8 is discouraging people from wearing masks, a national theater chain, AMC, has banned masks and costumes completely from its theaters.