- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama multiplex cinema criticized for having subpar security when a fight broke out in the parking lot on Christmas night has joined a police surveillance program.

Wynnsong 16 in Mobile will join the Project Shield program, Al.com (https://bit.ly/21luSru) reported. The cinema, which is own by the Georgia-owned Carmike Inc., will join a host of businesses including Bel-Air Mall as part of the department’s surveillance system program called Project Shield.

The Mobile Police Department made the announcement Thursday. The complex agreed to join the new partnership between the private sector and police that allows authorities access to live security camera feeds.

Since Project Shield’s inception last year, police have been able to gain access to more than 3,600 surveillance and security cameras city-wide.

“I am confident that the measures taken by Wynnsong will provide for a safe environment in which people can enjoy,” Police Chief James Barber said in a news release. “They are commended for their willingness to work with (the police).”

Barber had been pushing for more action by Carmike in the aftermath of a dangerous incident that occurred during Christmas night. More than 400 youths ranging in ages from 8 years old to 18-year-old adults congregated in the parking lot for hours, creating a disturbance and worry for people inside the theater complex.

Four teenagers were shot leading to an eruption of chose that spilled into nearby businesses and streets. No arrests were ever reported, but police named 17-year-old Johnny Vail as a person of interest.

Barber told a Mobile City Council Public Safety Committee in January that he felt Wynnsong’s surveillance system was inadequate. He said that police were negotiating with the Carmike’s corporate offices about including the cinema into Project Shield, but no announcements had been made at the time.

Instead, Wynnsong management posted signs warning patrons not to wear sagging pants or lewd clothing, refrain from profanity and not to loiter.

Camera feeds at Wynnsong will now help the Police Department’s Cyber Intelligence Unit receive immediate digital evidence to connect the dots of intelligent-gathering information, which in turn is used to solve crimes in the community.

“We hope other similar entertainment venues will follow and join the city’s umbrella of safety,” said Kevin Levy, the commander of the Cyber Intelligence Unit.

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