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Soft targets: Experts urge Midwesterns to remain vigilant

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DAYTON (WRGT) -- Recent acts of terror are reigniting the discussion about so-called soft targets, public places like parks, theaters and malls.

A soft target is any place that provides little to no protection, and according to one expert, there are plenty of those places here in the Miami Valley.

Josie O'Dell works in a shopping plaza near the Dayton Mall.

"When I see stuff on the news, it's like a, it becomes like a wake-up call," said O'Dell. "People don't like to talk about it because it scares them," said O'Dell.

Fighting Back Expert Bill Parsons says its necessary to talk about it.

In fact, the Dayton Mall area and others like it are considered "soft targets."

"There's very little security there, and the security there is more of a deterrent than really actually engage," said Parsons.

And with our "Midwest attitude" and small towns, Parsons says that makes us even more vulnerable.

"If they were to strike at the heart of America -- which is small-town America, Main Street -- I mean the terror would ripple through this country and they would realize no one is really safe from this," he said.

Not even kids, Parsons says, are safe.

High school football games also are soft targets.

"Sometimes, thousands or hundreds of people are gathered there for a game. There is some police presence there but it's more for crowd control, not really looking out for these kinds of things," said Parsons.

But no matter what, some say you should always be looking out.

"I wouldn't really underestimate where you live. Just be prepared for yourself and the people around you to see what you can best do in any time of situation that were to come," said O'Dell.

Parsons also mentioned that downtown Dayton buildings could also be considered soft targets, because of the limited security inside.

So, of course, if you see anything unusual let police know immediately.

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