There were no incidents at the screenings, and Cpl. Neufeld said he heard that people were, as always, happy to see people there to deal with any dangers.
“When they’re there, they’re visible, people see them and people come in and say, ‘Hey man, we’re glad you’re here,’ ” Cpl. Neufeld said. “It gives people a sense of calm.”
The Aurora shooting has stirred discussion about appropriate security precautions at gathering places commonly considered safe from the cares and worries of the outside world. Experts say that security at public venues has increased substantially over the past decade, but they also note that it’s impossible to maintain perfect safety at all times.
Officials have said the Aurora shooting suspect bought a ticket to the midnight showing and went into the theater as part of the crowd. A federal law enforcement official said suspect Mr. Holmes is believed to have propped open an exit door in the theater as the movie was playing, donned protective ballistic gear, re-entered about a half-hour into the film and opened fire.
Aurora police said the suspect tossed two gas canisters into the crowd and had an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun, and two .40-caliber Glock handguns.
Some theaters have added security guards for all nights of the week since the shooting, and police departments around the country have also conducted extra patrols that focus on movie theaters, though it’s not clear if those shifts will be permanent.
AMC Theatres has barred people from wearing masks or bringing fake weapons inside its buildings.
Many theaters, including the Cinemark in Aurora, prohibit patrons from bringing in their concealed weapons they use for personal protection.
That irks people like Dudley Brown, executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, who said that he has refused to go to Aurora theater because of that ban.
“What could have stopped this is law-abiding citizens being allowed to carry,” Mr. Brown insisted.
Mr. Lowak, the father of the shooting survivor, also said he believes people carrying concealed weapons might have helped limit the bloodshed.
But Hubert Williams, former head of the Newark police department and president of the Police Foundation, said that the idea that average citizens with guns could keep a theater safe only makes sense “on a piece of paper.”
“Reality is much more complicated. What if you pull a gun out, take aim and someone else thinks you’re the shooter?” he asked. “Would you stand up against an AR-15, AK-47 military-style assault weapon? Give me a break.”