Police share new plan to combat teen violence at malls

Several teens were arrested during a fight at Castleton Square Mall last week.
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Police plan an increased presence at area shopping malls after a recent outbreak of teen violence.

Metro police officers will join mall security on the increased patrols this weekend.

"Our partners have committed to bringing on some more off-duty officers," said IMPD Commander Tom Koppel. "In return, we are also going to have increased law enforcement presence at Castleton."

Last Saturday, five teens were arrested during a fight that started at Castleton Square Mall and finished across 82nd Street. Police found alcohol and two handguns during that incident.

In January, a 17-year-old male fired shots outside Circle Centre Mall downtown, striking a glass window on the Artsgarden.

In a press conference Tuesday evening, Metro police also pleaded with parents to be more responsible for their teenaged children.

"The thing that's missing is the parents. Where are the parents involved with their kids throughout the city?" Koppel said.

After police and Simon Malls management met Tuesday, they rolled out a letter to parents.

"Please do not allow your children to come to the mall just to hang out," the letter read.

"They're not babysitting," said IMPD Deputy Chief Scott Haslar.

Mall security is handing the letter to parents as they come to the mall with their young people. It also spells out a code of conduct, like no fighting, threatening and no weapons. It also warns violators they could be arrested and banned from the mall.

Officers will be enforcing a "no more than four" policy, where groups of more than four unattended teenagers will be sent home.

"That's way less intimidating to others who are shopping," Koppel said.

But shopper Mark Gumbel says if people are dropping their kids off at the mall, they're not coming inside.

"I'm not sure they're going to get the letter then," he said.

But security will work to get the message out.

IMPD will also increase their numbers outside the mall. They say they have enough resources to monitor what the teens might be doing, including moving to another mall. Police will track social media, tracking chatter on Facebook and Twitter to see where kids may head next, so they can redeploy forces, if needed.

"We're putting together mobile resources that can be deployed anywhere in the city within minutes, so we can handle it," Haslar said.

But can parents handle their accountability role? Hannah Weaver is skeptical.

"Yes it's their job to raise their kids in the best way they can, but they don't have final say what their kids do when outside their supervision," she said.

IMPD will even hold some weekend roll call meetings in the mall to show police presence.

Read the letter to parents