Many police departments in Northern Virginia say the public can expect an increased police presence in shopping malls, public malls and gathering places over the weekend for Halloween in response to a potential threat.
The potential threat to shopping malls stemmed from intelligence that may be related to ISIS, according to a number of law enforcement and intelligence sources. The credibility of the information is still being assessed, sources said.
An FBI spokesman said in a statement: “We have no comment. However, we warn you that the FBI takes all possible threats to public safety seriously and takes all appropriate steps to establish the veracity of any information we receive.”
The Arlington County Police Department issued a statement describing this as a “potential threat to public safety”.
“Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) is aware of information circulating regarding a non-specific, unconfirmed threat to shopping malls,” the statement said. “There is no specific or identified threat to our region. As always, the public is encouraged to remain vigilant when performing your usual routines, especially in areas where large crowds of people, such as shopping malls, restaurant districts, religious services and public transport hubs, to name a few. “
Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis told a news conference Friday that the intelligence referred to “potential public safety impacts on shopping malls and shopping malls across the region.”
“We take that seriously,” Davis said. “We’re just proactive.”
“In the best interests of those of us who live here, we act very cautiously,” he said.
The chief did not give details of what it was about, but urged the public to be vigilant.
Davis called it a “regional matter” with information from a joint exchange.
“This is information that we work on by establishing a greater presence where people gather,” Davis explained. “We take appropriate responsible action to ensure that the community knows that we take all information about their safety seriously.”
Similar warnings have been offered by other departments such as Alexandria, Virginia, the Police Department, the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office and the Prince William County Sheriff’s Office.