"For some people, shopping is a competitive sport," city police Cmdr. Andy Smith told the Los Angeles Times. "But it should not be a contact sport."
The newspaper said police officials compiled detailed tactical plans for each major shopping center, using mobile command posts and both officers and cadets. Police have talked with retailers to encourage store policies that will lessen the odds of shoppers getting into knock-down brawls as they go after marked-down merchandise.
Among the ideas are to offer "time-specific entry passes" to stagger the number of people inside a store at any one time and to avoid stacking sale items on pallets to minimize "crowd aggression."
Aimee Drolet Rossi, a consumer psychologist at UCLA's Anderson School of Management, said people have something in common with other animals when it comes to being crowded.
"Crowding leads people to behave less altruistically, in part because people's sense of responsibility lags when a lot of other people are around," she told the Times. "People assume that other people will step up to help someone who is in distress."