Mid-South police departments step up patrols after mass shootings

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two Mid-South police departments are stepping up patrols in response to mass shootings Saturday and Sunday in Texas and Ohio, and another deadly shooting at a Mississippi Walmart earlier this week.

As families get ready for the hectic back-to-school season, there’s one looming fear in the back of many people’s minds: Will they or someone they love become the next victim of a mass shooting?

“You could just be walking the streets and you don’t know if somebody might just blow your head off,” Debbie Hall, of Memphis, said. “You don’t know.”

“It’s just dangerous out here now. You know, you can’t trust nobody,” Leon Payne said. “You gotta be careful when you walk out your front door now.”

To calm some of that anxiety and help keep people safe, Memphis Police have implemented patrols at malls and Walmart stores across the city.

“It provides at least that visibility of them being there,” MPD Deputy Chief Paul Wright said Saturday night at a special press conference announcing the initiative. “I think people will see that it’s safe to go here, officers are here, watching out for us.”

WREG spotted at least four police units at the Walmart on Elvis Presley Boulevard Sunday, and officers patrolling inside and outside the store.

“We want our citizens and visitors to be able to come, shop, enjoy the city, prepare for school and go about their daily duties without any threats of violence,” MPD Director Michael Rallings said.

And West Memphis Police are following their lead. Officers are out in full force at shopping centers, restaurants and churches.

“It’s good they’re stepping up, because we need more protection,” Hall said.

One of the biggest concerns after any mass shooting is copycats. So, if you find yourself in the middle of a shooting, Rallings suggests following three guidelines.

“It is simply avoid, deny, defend,” he said.

Meaning escape, if possible. And if you can’t, hide from the attacker and be prepared to fight.

But most importantly, always keep an eye on your surroundings.

“Keep watchin’ my back – over my back,” Payne said. “And like she said, you got to pray. You know, you got to.”

MPD is also asking everyone, if you see something, say something.

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