Parental Guidance Required at Mall St. Matthews, Oxmoor
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Mall St. Matthews and Oxmoor Center Mall officials just released a revised policy for shoppers after that chaotic situation Saturday night.
Beginning Saturday, minors under age 17 will have to be accompanied by a parent or a supervising adult 21 or older after 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. This policy will be in place until further notice. Mall officials said the new rules will be strictly and uniformly enforced on all mall property, including the parking lot and all exterior sidewalks.
During the restricted hours, public safety officers stationed at all mall entrances will check IDs of all patrons who appear to be 17 and under. Mall officials said people who cannot provide a valid photo ID showing they are at least 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or supervising adult who is at least 21 years old in order to remain at the mall. One adult may accompany up to four youths and all accompanied youth must remain with the supervising adult at all times.
According to the new policy, those who provide proper identification demonstrating they are at least 18 will be offered an optional wristband. Teens who choose not to wear the wristband may be asked for ID again by public safety officers patrolling inside the malls.
Valid identification includes a state issued driver's license or ID card, a military ID, a school ID card, or a passport. The identification must be tamper proof and include a photograph and date of birth.
Also, announcements will be made inside the malls starting at 3 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, giving unsupervised teens time to complete their shopping and leave the mall before new policy kick in. After 4 p.m., public safety officers inside the malls will check IDs of individuals who appear to be underage and are not wearing wristbands.
On Wednesday, St. Matthews police officials outlined a laundry list of disorderly behavior going back two months at or near Mall St. Matthews.
After that they described how Saturday's mall disturbance began and ended, and insisted that there's no racial issue at play.
"To paint this as an issue involving a racial component, it's not," St. Matthews police spokesman Dennis McDonald said. "This is a community issue. These are our kids. Whether they're white, or they're black."
St. Matthews Police Special Response Team Commander Tony Cobaugh detailed a variety of criminal acts dating back to October, telling reporters gathered for a more than 90-minute news conference that juveniles have climbed atop the nearby Whole Foods store, banged on windows, thrown rocks at passing cars, congregated frequently in large groups at Taco Bell and engaged in fights and other unruly behavior.
"The community knows (Saturday's disturbance) wasn't a one-night event," Cobaugh said. "It was just the biggest night of a set of events going back to October."
At least two incidents prior to Saturday were reported to have involved guns, including a fight between an armed man and another man in the center of the mall near where Santa Claus was greeting families, Cobaugh said.
Wednesday's news conference was planned in an attempt to shed more light on the troubling trend, which culminated in Saturday's disturbance that police said included as many as 2,000 stampeding teenagers on holiday break from school. That number has been questioned for several days, but McDonald stood by that claim once again Wednesday.
"That number came from mall management," he said. "They routinely estimate numbers in attendance of their mall. We didn't back off (that) number."
Cobaugh said two officers on security patrol at the Cinemark theater radioed that they were being circled by a group of about 50 to 75 youths. A dispatcher then issued a "10-30" call, which prompts all available officers to respond to a location immediately, and that's when the turmoil began.
Cobaugh added it didn't take long for 55 to 65 law-enforcement officers from seven jurisdictions to respond to the mall.
He also said that as investigators interview store managers at the mall, they are often hearing things like, "My employees were crying. They were scared and in fear for their lives," Cobaugh said.
McDonald said it shouldn't be the job of the mall or the police to supervise teenagers.
"There's a lot of adults at home that need to step up," said McDonald, who shared that if it weren't for his own mentors when he was young, he'd probably not be where he is today. "Coach a team. Be a mentor. Be a role model. Encourage them to engage in activities."
St. Matthews police said there were elements to Saturday's disturbance that may be involved with social media. Cobuagh said many teens are doing what is called the "surj" where they take off running for no reason.
WAVE 3 News asked mall officials if the new policy will impact the theatre, they referred those questions to Cinemark. WAVE 3 News contacted Cinemark and had not heard back as of Wednesday evening.
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