Even though one witness called the scene, “chaos,” Simon Properties said it doesn’t plan to make any changes to its security operation at Circle Centre following a weekend brawl between gang members, security officers and metro police officers.
Three teens were arrested Saturday night after an attempt to escort the young men from the property erupted into a battle as a police officer deployed his stun gun.
Aaron Gill, a shopper, pulled one teen off an officer.
“He was trying to put the officer in the choke hold.”
Rev. Charles Harrison of the Ten Point Coalition told Fox59 News the problem downtown has escalated ever since the weather turned cold after Thanksgiving. Police stepped up presence in the Broad Ripple area and gang members have started walking through Circle Center on Saturday nights.
“These kids are not only coming down there but these kids are coming down there with weapons.”
Harrison called for a mall curfew, such as at the Mall of America in Minnesota where children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult on Friday and Saturday nights.
“We really have got to look at some kind of curfew that doesn’t allow 400 kids to be in the mall that overwhelms the mall security and the ma and pa’s to be in there without parental supervision.”
Harrison referred to the so-called Mall Moms & Dads, hired by Simon Properties to encourage teens to behave.
A Simon spokesman told Fox59 News there were 25 people on patrol in Circle Centre when the fight broke out and the response was, “appropriate.”
Les Morris called the issue a, “societal problem,” and, “not a mall issue.” He said the fight was, “atypical,” at Circle Centre and that an escort rule has been considered and rejected at several Simon Properties.
He said there were no plans to change Simon’s security presence as a result of the incident.
Appearing on the Fox59 Morning News, Mayor Greg Ballard said the answer was not to provide police officers inside the mall on Friday and Saturday nights.
“We have to have the Simon security there, obviously, and, like I say, there are other people there in addition to the police department but we’re not trying to put a cadre of police in the mall because for something that might happen so you don’t want to do that sort of thing because it sends other signals in a bad direction.”
Circle Centre was the site for 221 IMPD reports in 2012. Though most were for minor cases such as shoplifting, some were for gang-related activities and trespassing.
Public Safety Director Troy Riggs sat down with members of the faith-based community who have long been concerned about the level of youth violence downtown.
“I’ve been in conversation with Police Chief Rick Hite today. He’s been in conversation with many of the mall operators, some of the owners and talking about dual responsibility.
“Obviously, we want to be there if an event occurs but they’re talking about hiring some additional police officers and what we can do in partnership.”
Riggs said he expects police, religious leaders and the business community to come up with some answers within a month. Some of those answers could include additional security or dress codes for youth.
“We have to have the partnership of those business owners and those property owners to make something happen.”