INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 9, 2015)-- Saturday night, downtown Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers called in reinforcements to help control 400 juveniles who swarmed downtown on yet another typical weekend night in the heart of the city.
As teen girls fought, one put another in a headlock. By the end of the night, 20 teenagers were banned from Circle Centre. Five girls, ages 14-18, were arrested and were quoted as telling officers, "Don't come near me and tell me what to do or I swear I'm going to go off," and, "If you didn't have that badge it would be on."
"Well, it isn't surprising to us and for us because we've seen this in the past but not to this magnitude," said Officer Chris Wilburn. "I think that the citizens are kind of astonished by the number of females, young juveniles, that were detained and subsequently banned from the mall."
"We deal with this type of situation often in that people have a warped expectation of what our role is as police when it pertains to being in the malls and they're very very...I won't say hostile...but very agressive in their approach and interacting with the police."
That approach has officials watchful this weekend as Valentine's Day visitors are expected to dine and shop in the city's core.
"I think it causes us more concern when we're looking at the youth and wondering what is going on that they challenge police officers or intimidate a police officer or try to fight with a police officer," said Bettye Dobkins, a former Indianapolis police commander who now is director of safety and security for Downtown Indy. "Hopefully these things don't get so out of hand where we don't have a huge crowd marauding on the streets after the mall closes."
In January of 2013, teens ran wild in the streets on several consecutive Saturday nights until gunfire and bullet holes in a glass skyway convinced Simon Properties, operator of Circle Centre for the city, to allow off-duty IMPD officers to step up enforcement inside the mall.
"We're just always making sure that we're monitoring and communicating with IMPD and mall personnel to make sure that folks still feel that it's safe to come downtown because it still is," said Dobkins.
"We have enough countermeasures in place to mitigate these things once they do occur," said Wilburn. "Now in terms of with spring break coming up and the various holidays, St. Partick's Day, Valentine's Day, we have spoken to and we are in constant communication with our Homeland Security Division in terms of situations that may flare up or have the potential to flare up to be able to respond to those with enough manpower."
"I'm 18 and I don't have to listen to you," one girl who recently became an adult is quoted as telling an officer. "I don't give a damn. Just because you have a badge doesn't mean I have to listen to you."
IMPD will monitor social media to guage the potential for Saturday night flashpoints and confer with Simon Properties about controlling crowds inside the mall.
"If you're an unattended youth and you think that you are going to come down and cause ruckus and mayhem," warned Wilburn, "this isn't the place for you and you will be arrested and detained."