Carmike confirms searches

ALBANY, Ga. -- Carmike Cinemas officials have confirmed that the company has a bag search policy in place that is now being enforced at the local theater.

"Our division manager put the policy in place last year," Carmike Director of Marketing Dale Hurst said from the group's headquarters in Columbus. "We will conduct random searches of large bags, backpacks and grocery store bags. The policy is intended to enhance security for our customers and also provide protection of copywritten material."

When asked if the policy was also aimed at people bringing their own snacks into the theater (to avoid high concession prices), Hurst responded quickly. "No, no, no," he said. "People can still stick food into their coats. This policy is all about security."

Local Carmike Cinemas Manager Seth Donnelly said timing was the reason the policy is just now being implemented here.

"I took the position here on July 19, and prior to that the policy was not enforced," Donnelly said. "This (policy) is really a public-safety issue. We've found alcohol, weapons, food and digital cameras."

Donnelly acknowledged he had received complaints about the policy but said that it would continue to be enforced.

"Yes, we have had several complaints, but people are getting accustomed to it," Donnelly said. "We never go inside the bags. We just ask that they open them up and let us take a look inside.

"We don't really have much of a problem Sunday through Thursday nights, but we have brought in extra security (Albany Police officers) for Friday and Saturday nights."