*~ October, 2008 -- Page 1 ~*
Police substation opens at
mall after murders (10/2/08)
BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) -- The Town Center mall, in Boca Raton, where a mother and daughter were murdered has opened a new mall substation and closed-circuit television command post.
The new substation which opened Thursday at Town Center will be an operational base for Boca Raton police officers who currently patrol the mall.
The bodies of Nancy Bochicchio, 47, and her 7-year-old daughter Joey were discovered in their car outside the mall in December. Nancy had a pair of swimming goggles over her eyes and was bound with plastic ties.
A second mother and young child were abducted in August in a similar fashion but were let go. No one has been charged with the crimes.
Mall security was increased after the murders though mall officials say the substation was planned before the crimes.
By CHRISTINA DENARDO
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 02, 2008
BOCA RATON - The Town Center at Boca Raton unveiled a new closed-circuit television command post and opened a new mall substation this morning in the new wing of The Terrace.
The new 1,700-square-foot sub station will be the operational base for the Boca Raton police officers currently assigned to patrol Town Center and will include work space for four Crime Prevention Unit members. The sub-station will be staffed by a community service officer and civilian volunteers.
Though mall security has been beefed up since the murders of three people who were shopping at the mall and a robbery and kidnapping of another woman and her son, mall officials said the substation had been planned before the attacks.
BOCA RATON, FL -- Two new security stations are set to open Thursday at the Town Center at Boca Raton.
Mall management will unveil a new closed-circuit television command post at 9 a.m. in the new wing of The Terrace.
The Boca Raton Police Department will also open its new mall sub station.
"Law enforcement has had an on-site presence at Town Center for 15 years," says Town Center General Manager Joseph Cilia.
"We are pleased to present this joint project that is the culmination of efforts and work begun in 2006. In addition to it being an expansion of both the mall and City services, it will be the monitoring point for all of the newly installed cameras including the parking areas, decks and interior of the mall," Cilia added.
"These new cameras complement the already over 900 cameras on the property which receive comprehensive views of the property, the parking fields, parking decks and the area around the property," says Cilia.
Over the past 18 months, two adults and one child were killed after shopping at the Town Center of Boca Raton.
Randi Gorenberg was last seen on surveillance video leaving the mall in March of 2007.
Nancy Bochicchio and her young daughter Joey were found murdered inside their SUV in the mall parking lot in December of 2007.
A Broward County woman says she and her toddler were abducted from the Town Center of Boca Raton in August of 2007.
Boca Raton Police have said the 1,700 square foot sub station was in the works prior to the crimes.
Police say the sub station will be the operational base for the Boca Raton officers currently assigned to patrol Town Center at Boca Raton and will include work space for four Crime Prevention Unit members.
The sub station will be staffed by a Community Service Officer and civilian volunteers who will assist shoppers with police reports and fingerprinting. The sub staion will have a processing area and video surveillance room.
"This facility enhances our service to the public by consolidating all of our Town Center resources in one convenient and customer-friendly location," says Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander.
"This sub station also increases our efficiency and law enforcement presence with the addition of the Boca Raton Police Crime Prevention Unit at this site," adds Alexander.
The event will be attended by members of the Boca Raton Police Department, City officials and members of the newly formed Community Safety Task Force for Boca Raton whose mission is dedicated to building a safer community through communication, awareness and commitment to action.
BOCA RATON, FL -- The Town Center Mall at Boca Raton unveiled its new high-tech security system and police sub-station Thursday.
Sixty-four new, motion-censored, cameras now watch over the mall inside and out, including its parking lots and garages. Those very spaces, once without cameras, are where police say three people entered a dangerous zone that eventually cost them their lives.
Randy Gorenberg was last video taped alive in March 2007 leaving the mall. Police say she was car-jacked and shot, her body dumped in suburban Delray Beach in broad daylight.
Nine months later, Nancy and Joey Bocchicio, also seen on security camera were later found dead in the mall's parking lot, bound and shot.
While Simon Property Group says this new security system is not a reaction to the Joey and Nancy Bocchichio murders, they do say that if these cameras had been in place, they might have more information.
The same goes for Randy Gorenberg's killing. While the new cameras may prevent future violence, the questions and the grief remain for Gorenberg's mom, who told us that her pain has only become worse over time.
"It's easy to second guess what might have happened. It's important to recognize that a long time ago we saw the need to have a better presence out here," said Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander.
Police and the mall insist this plan has been in the works for at least a couple of years. Inside the sub-station, Boca Raton Police monitor cameras of their own for a broader purpose.
"Prevent terrorism. So its not, it's a totally different approach than your day to day security," said Alexander.
In addition to the cameras the mall also announced three other programs aimed at raising community awareness. Shoppers can pick up safety cards from customer service centers that have important telephone numbers inside.
By Brian Haas |South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Malls across South Florida have increased security in recent months, making sure to publicize their efforts to quell jittery shoppers' fears.
On Thursday, officials with Town Center at Boca Raton became the latest to unveil new security measures, including a new surveillance system and police substation, two elements they hope will make the mall safer.
Though mall officials say the security improvements had been planned for years, the Dec. 12 unsolved murder of Nancy Bochicchio, 47, and her 7-year-old daughter, Joey, who were found dead in the mall parking lot, looms any time local mall safety is brought up.
Other malls have taken different safety precautions, though their managers said it is not in response to crime problems.
The Coral Square Mall in Coral Springs and the Boynton Beach Mall, also owned by Simon Property Group, will have a German shepherd trained in detaining suspects walk their halls to scare off criminals.
Others, like the Pembroke Lakes Mall in Pembroke Pines, owned by General Growth Properties Inc., sometimes use mobile police watch towers in parking lots. And Broward County has considered laws requiring surveillance cameras outside all large commercial businesses because of crime concerns.
Town Center officials said their beefed-up security is "absolutely not" related to the Bochicchio case or other recent high-profile cases.In March 2007, Randi Gorenberg, 52, was last seen alive at the Town Center before she was found murdered west of Delray Beach. Another woman survived an armed kidnapping from the mall parking lot in August 2007.
"We have been in development of this program ... for over two years," said Lydia Gilmore, Florida vice president of the mall's owner, Simon.
Town Center officials Thursday touted a 1,700-square-foot police substation that will operate during business hours. Boca Raton Police Capt. Coy Dixon said two officers patrol the mall every day.
The substation isn't accessible from inside the mall. Customers must walk to the "Terrace at Town Center" outdoor shopping area and go up to the second floor near the Nordstrom parking garage. Dix acknowledged it might not be the "perfect location."
"But it works for us for now," he said.
Chris McGoey, a Los Angeles-based security consultant, is generally critical of substations saying they're "standard in the mall playbook" when mall crimes come under media scrutiny.
"Most substations amount to nothing," he said, saying that in general, they're a way to avoid spending on increased security.
But he said the Town Center's substation, with sworn officers patrolling the mall, is the right idea.
"If they work it right, it could really make a difference," he said.
Mall officials also showed off their new camera system from a small control room sporting six screens with live, recorded video feeds. Security guard Nick Galbo zoomed in to show the quality of the picture.
"I can zoom in. I could get right in and get a crystal-clear copy of a [license] plate [or] ... people's faces," he said.
He said he can control 64 cameras that cover "every area" of the mall, inside and out, though mall officials wouldn't confirm that number. Town Center General Manager Joe Cilia said that there about 900 cameras on the property if all the cameras in the mall, inside stores and those operated by police are included.
"I think that there's a tremendous amount, collectively," he said.
Fran Folic, spokeswoman for Town Center, couldn't say if there are plans to install similar cameras in the Coral Square Mall parking lot, because Simon officials were traveling Thursday afternoon.
McGoey praised Town Center's efforts but warned that the new measures are not a substitute for a good security force.
Brian Haas can be reached at bhaas@SunSentinel.com or
Check it out
By Patty Pensa |South Florida Sun-Sentinel
After more than three years in office, Boca Raton Vice Mayor Peter Baronoff announced this week he will leave public office due to his wife's illness.
Baronoff said Wednesday that he and wife, Malinda, do not want to publicly disclose her condition. The couple learned of her diagnosis in June and she is being treated in Houston. A new phase of her treatment began this week, Baronoff said.
"This was a difficult decision because I felt great responsibility to giving back to my community," he said. "However, my priority is family first. At this time, this was a family decision."
Baronoff was first elected in 2005, when he ran on a platform of controlling growth, safety and security, and fiscal responsibility. He said he withheld his decision on leaving until the city passed its 2008-09 budget last month. His resignation is effective Nov. 30.
That date was chosen to avoid a special election if council members can't reach consensus on his replacement. If an appointment isn't selected before Nov. 30, the city would have to hold a special election, according to the city's charter. Such an election could cost about $100,000 only months before the regular election in March.
The City Council will discuss replacing Baronoff and soliciting candidates at its meeting Tuesday. His replacement likely would be selected by the end of December but would have to run for election in March to continue serving, said Mayor Susan Whelchel.
Whelchel described Baronoff as a vocal and involved council member who is "knowledgeable of the issues and big picture of what a community needs." He had served as chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency for two years.
Baronoff will attend council meetings through November either in person or via teleconferencing. He will spend much of the time in Houston with his wife of more than 26 years. The couple have two daughters, Shanna, 21, and Jillian, 19.
The chief executive officer of two health-care companies, Baronoff was re-elected in March without opposition. As a council member, he championed a multimillion-dollar effort to create a pedestrian connection between Mizner Park and Royal Palm Place.
Earlier this year, he was critical of the Town Center mall's reaction to the slaying of Nancy Bochicchio and her 7-year-old daughter, saying, "I am outraged at how the mall reacted."
Baronoff said Wednesday he "always tried to preserve the voice for our citizens." He did not rule out running for office in the future.
Patty Pensa can be reached at ppensa@SunSentinel.com or 561-243-6609.