Point Mallard makes security updates, caps attendance after June 1st shooting

DECATUR, Ala. - Today, Decatur officials announced some big safety changes for Point Mallard Water Park including a maximum number of guests and an amended security plan.

The changes stem from a shooting at the Splash into Summer event held on June 1, where two people were injured in a shooting. Caleb Jones faces charges for the shooting.

The new safety plan was developed by Decatur Parks & Recreation, Decatur Police and Decatur Fire & Rescue after WHNT News 19 pressed for answers after the shooting.

Crowd Control and Population Counts

There is now a maximum of 6,000 guests at one time. Park employees will now have an entry and exit counting system in order to guarantee accurate headcount totals.

"The 6,000 number would be for a normal operating day," says Parks and Recreation Director Jason Lakes.

Officials says the park, which covers 20 acres, can accommodate up to 10,000 guests when spread over the entire park. However, the "cross-departmental response team" unanimously decided to cap the attendance at 6,000 based on historic park totals over the last decade.

Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen says they will focus on controlling crowds throughout the park.

"If there's a long line waiting around the wave pool his staff can encourage them to go over to the slide until this line dies down some," says Chief Allen.

Is there flexibility?

Officials says the event will dictate the number of visitors allowed. They say day-long events may allow for higher population, while shorter events may only allow for a smaller number.

In addition to the cap on guest numbers, officials made some security changes:

  • Increased police presence at entry gates
  • Increased fire presence for fast response to medical issues during large-scale events
  • Critical incident response plans, as needed
  • Employee awareness training on potential threats (e.g., overcrowding or sources of physical danger)

Chief Allen says they are also considering the possibility of developing a policy regarding unaccompanied minors.

"If you look around some of the malls throughout tis country they have the policy in place now that minors can not come here that may be something that we will be looking into," says Allen.

One proposed solution that the park will not be implementing is bag checks. Park Director Jason Lake says that wouldn't help because people can still carry a gun into the park on their person.

"Thats something we're not implementing right now but it is something we are looking at. whatever we are going to do is to fix the problem and things that make sense and make people safe," says Lakes.

The History

After the shooting on June 1, dozens of people reached out to WHNT News 19 asking questions about the situation. They said they believed park employees and security weren't prepared for the number of people in attendance.

WHNT News 19 pushed for answers about park capacity and safety issues. But, until today, we didn't get any specific answers.

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