Joe Downtown: Customers complaining about searches at Downtown Container Park

A look at the downtown Container Park on 7th Street and Fremont Street, which had its soft opening Nov. 25, 2013.

Container Park Opening

A look at the downtown Container Park on 7th Street and Fremont Street, which had its soft opening today, Monday Nov. 25, 2013. Launch slideshow »

The new Downtown Container Park has a random bag-checking policy that has upset some customers who have voiced their ire online — and park operators are listening.

A source said the policy is the result of the city trying to ensure that no one enters the mall with alcohol.

Early this week, a security officer from ACME Security asked to check my bags. I replied that I'd been inside at least 10 times before and never been checked before; he asked if I worked there, and I said no.

"Then I need to check your bags," he said.

I left instead.

That policy was one of several — tables around the playground in the center of the park, for another, cannot be closer than 8 feet to the playground fence — demanded by the city. A minor issue came about during construction of the park over the proximity of bars to the playground.

Some of the complaints were registered on a Facebook site devoted to a downtown neighborhood. John S. Park neighborhood resident Billy Logan wrote Wednesday that he was stopped while walking in to get something from the Sweet Spot Candy Shop.

While asking a Downtown Ranger if the mall's restaurants were open, "a security guard sprinted over from the security office and asked to search my bag (a small manpurse/messenger bag) and I politely answered, 'No thank you.' The guard gruffly responded that I would not be allowed in until he searched my bag. I chose to spend my cash elsewhere."

Logan wrapped the post up: "They're permanently off my list until things change. Triple sadness as I was actually starting to like the place."

Others on the site weighed in, some saying they were also checked, some saying they had never been checked.

Chris Curtis, the former Metro sergeant now in charge of the Rangers, said the random checks are staying, but he is working more closely with security on how to approach customers.

"There's a way to do this," he said Friday.

He watched security closely; he told one guard to take off his sunglasses because they can put people off. He also asked people he knew to go through the process with security. When it was over, he asked how the officers might have done it differently.

As he watched, something caught his eye. Two men in black baseball caps walked in. They didn't carry bags so they weren't picked for a search. But Curtis noticed one of them wearing a gun.

It bulged from the man's right hip under a light, windbreaker-type coat. He followed them and watched for several minutes. The two men, both wearing sunglasses, got something to eat and sat at one of the tables by the playground.

With a permit, it's legal to carry a concealed weapon in Nevada.

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