Mayor tired of downtown teen violence, calls on parents to supervise teens

Mayor, IMPD chief talk Circle Centre Mall strategy

INDIANAPOLIS - City leaders are promising a new crackdown to end violence in downtown Indianapolis after another violent incident outside Circle Centre Mall over the weekend.

Officials say they've had enough of it, and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard had a pointed message for parents.

"Those parents that are sending their kids down unsupervised... That's the parents I want to talk to," Ballard said. "Stop doing that."

Saturday night police broke up a fight in the mall involving several teenage girls.

Authorities also arrested a 16-year-old boy for shooting off a gun near Maryland and Capital.

"Obviously we have to provide more resources and I think that's what we are going to do," Ballard said. "I think you might see a little change in game plan and more resources going down there."

Ballard would not give specific plan details, but Police Chief Rick Hite said it involves adding at least 50 more officers in and around the mall.

"We're going to have additional officers and supervisors inside the mall. We're going to have people at the front door of the mall and exits of the mall," Hite said. "You're going to see additional officers on the corners in the downtown area."

Members of Ten Point Coalition, which consists of volunteers working to stop violence among teens, were right there Saturday as violence rang out right under their watchful eye.

"It just seems that probably in the last couple of months that we have had an increase," said Rev. Horatio Luster, with the Ten Point Coalition. "It seems like you know, it's a thing where the youth don't have anywhere to go so they are congregating inside the mall."

Earlier this month, police arrested a 15-year-old for firing shots inside the Lafayette Square Mall and four people, including three teens, were arrested for a fight near Circle Centre.

"I'm really tired of these parents, completely irresponsible parents sending their kids down unsupervised," Ballard said. "They always say, 'Well, it's not my kid." Well it is your kid, and you need to be looking at it."
Despite the weekend violence Ballard said people should still feel safe coming to the mall and spending time downtown.

Ballard and Hite said they have already met about this issue this week, and they expect to meet several more times over the coming days.

Public Safety Director Troy Riggs told RTV6 he's instituting a zero-tolerance policy at the mall.

"Meaning, if someone is having an argument, they're not going to be just escorted outside of the mall, we'll arrest them," Riggs said. "If we see someone have some type of altercation in downtown Indianapolis, they will be arrested."

Riggs echoed Ballard's call to parents, saying they'd be held accountable for their teens' actions.

"Know what (your kids are) doing," Riggs said. "Because we're going to look at making parents accountable, making them come and pick up their children. And if they do any damage, and if there's a way, then we're going to hold them accountable in court."

Despite high-profile problems in two of the past three weekends, Riggs puts his faith in the safety of downtown.

Saturday night, he plans to bring his family to the mall for dinner.

"One of the reasons that I love Indianapolis so much, and have my entire life, is because you can always enjoy yourself and feel safe," Riggs said. "I still think that's the state today, and my family and I will be downtown there this weekend."

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