Downtown merchant proposes wristband system to combat teen violence at Circle Centre

Merchant asks others to get on board

INDIANAPOLIS - A downtown merchant has proposed a plan to curb downtown violence among teens, and he wants all downtown merchants to get on board.

The operator of Downtown Comics has suggested a wristband program that would get other merchants and parents directly involved with tight supervision of teens who come downtown.

"It can be direct parental presence with their kids, or it could be this wristband, where the merchant knows that at some point today, the parent was involved in the decision for their kids to be downtown," said Douglas Stephenson, with Downtown Comics.

Parents who would not directly supervise their children would still have to accompany them downtown to a central location where they would register for a wristband and sign an agreement that would hold them responsible for their child's actions. The wristbands cost 8 cents each.

Stephenson hopes such a program would limit fights inside the malls and gun violence on the streets that marred two weekends in January.

"This idea is a great, think-outside-the-box way of addressing some of the unsupervised kids issues that we're having downtown these days," said Valerie Washington, with the Department of Public Safety. "And I think this may be a good practical thing to do."

At the Simon-owned Mall of America, children 16 years and younger aren't allowed inside without adult supervision, and some downtown restaurants have imposed curfews for teens without parents.

"We're putting too many city resources into fighting a problem that could be shared cooperatively by all merchants downtown, the Simons, the convention center, the whole downtown community instead of just shunting this off to the police department," Stephenson said.

While not wanting to get directly involved, Metro police support the wristband idea as long as all teens have fair and equal access to the program.

Downtown merchants say it's way too early to commit to the wristband plan, and they want more information first.

Circle Centre Mall, which benefits the most from a police presence, didn't RTV6's calls for comment.

The Department of Public Safety spent $10,000 in overtime and brought in police from outlying districts in order to ensure the peace at the mall last weekend.

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