WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) --Plenty of people are toting hefty shopping bags at Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek on Black Friday.
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The outdoor mall has a new look, and new emphasis on security.
For the first time, the Walnut Creek police department has partnered with a private company to assign a police officer to a shopping center.
"Macerich owns Broadway Plaza," said Lt. Jay Hill of Walnut Creek police. "And we've entered into an agreement with them to pay for half the cost of an officer. They pay 50 percent, we pay 50 percent and they get an officer down there 40 hours a week."
Officer Marc Gonzales started Nov. 15. He's working with stores on loss prevention, responding to shoplifting and credit card fraud and even helping the flow of traffic.
"Got nothing but a positive response from all of the management of the stores," said Gonzales. "They are happy to see a police officer will be dedicated to the area and provide service so much quicker than if we're across town or somewhere else."
Police told us the recent expansion of this East Bay shopping district is expected to bring more crime.
"I think it's good for Broadway Plaza," said one shopper Ariana Mansfield. "Because there's been a lot of people being mugged especially in parking lots and things like that."
Other shoppers disagree. "I think it scares off people more," added Kelly Halvorsen. "The security guards don't intimidate anybody, but a police officer is more intimidating.
The theory is a full time officer here will free up other officers to respond to other neighborhood calls.
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No matter where shoppers go, top safety tips include: locking valuables out of sight in vehicles, and not staring at your cellphone when crossing the street.
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