One Indianapolis business is proposing a nontraditional plan for curbing youth violence downtown: wristbands.
Doug Stephenson, vice president of Downtown Comics, said he’d like to work with the city on implementing a parent-approved wristband system for teens who want to spend time in downtown businesses at night without their parents.
IMPD and Simon Malls have been focused on reigning in groups of teenagers, following a downtown fight two weeks ago which led to gunshots. Though the past weekend was relatively quiet thanks to a bigger police presence, some businesses, such as Buffalo Wild Wings, have now enacted curfews for weekend nights, barring anyone under 18 who isn’t accompanied by an adult.
Stephenson said many downtown businesses won’t go as far as enacting curfews. He said one alternative could be enacting a wristband policy that allows teens in by themselves if their parents offer consent.
“I think there needs to be a proactive strategy as opposed to the reactive strategy of just sending more police down here,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson calls his idea “Indybands.” Ideally, he said IMPD, the Convention Center and area hotels would give parents the opportunity to sign their kids up to wear the temporary bracelets. He said businesses could then set a curfew for certain nights and provide exceptions to kids who wear the wristbands.
At last year’s state fair, parents could sign up for a program called “lost and find me” which gave kids special wristbands with a QR-code that could be scanned to get the parents’ contact info in case they were lost. Stephenson says Indybands could work in a similar way.
“If they get in any trouble, here’s the band, here’s (the parent) contact info,” Stephenson said. “You get a hold of (the parent) and (they) come down and take care of it.”
Stephenson said the Convention Center and hotels could sign on to offer the same passes to teens visiting from out of town for events like the FFA convention.
Perry Lach, of Carmel, is skeptical about how a wristband program could practically be structured, but the father of two said it’s at least a conversation starter.
“I think it’s a good attempt to try and make it work,” Lach said.
Stephensonsaid Indybands is still just an idea, but he’d like it to trigger more talk about solutions among downtown businesses.
“They should all come together and figure out what we can do and how we can help,” Stephenson said.
More information about Stephenson’s wristbands is available online.