Police put metal detectors, more officers downtown after youth violence

Changes begin this weekend

INDIANAPOLIS - Police will use metal detectors and more officers on the streets to combat recent violence among unsupervised teens downtown.

Beginning this weekend, officers will staff metal detectors at entrances to Circle Centre Mall.

All unsupervised youth leaving the mall who are not immediately picked up will be given the option of either boarding an IndyGo bus to return home or will be directed to a monitored, designated location to await their transportation home.

Police will also supplement off-duty officers hired by IndyGo to patrol bus stops with additional on-duty officers, and Marion County Juvenile Probation officers will begin conducting random probation sweeps downtown.

The measures come after shots were fired near the mall last weekend, and several fights have been reported among teens.

"The disruptive and criminal behavior displayed by a small element of our city's youth is unacceptable," Indianapolis Police Chief Rick Hite said. "I am confident our updated plan, along with additional community and government partnerships, will remedy recent events and ensure everyone enjoys their experience while in downtown Indianapolis. The IMPD promises zero tolerance of disruptive behavior and violence."

Faith-based leaders will also be downtown, encouraging young people to stay in line.

"They bring their knives, they bring their guns. We're coming with our weapons as well, but our weapons are not carnal, they are spiritual," said the Rev. Terry Webster with Nu Corinthian Baptist Church.

The Indianapolis Housing Agency is sending out letters to 1,800 families in public housing offering parenting and counseling services through Eskanazi Health, but also warning parents that their child's troubles could result in eviction.

"We consider everything. There are cases in which minors can cause the entire family to be evicted," said Executive Director Bud Myers.

Juvenile Judge Marilyn Moores wants parents to know they are liable for their child's delinquent actions.

"One of the things I would like to see done is to have our charging information say, 'State of Indiana versus Johnny, Johnny's mommy, and Johnny's daddy,' so that they have a better sense that they are indeed a party in this proceeding, and that they need to be held accountable," she said.

Moores said that even though the names of juveniles in criminal cases are protected, the names of those parents are not.

More than a dozen teens visited the mall on an educational visit Friday night with Young Men Inc., a youth ministry led by Rev. Malachi Walker.

Walker said he brought the young men to the mall Friday to teach them acceptable mall behavior, and he said they were there to send a message.

"We want to let the city know that, to bring awareness that not all black males in this city coming down to the mall are disruptive and they're not all black males down here carrying guns," Walker said.

Walker said he is concerned about racial profiling.

"And because of some of the violence taking place down here, yes there's going to be some of that," Walker said.

Young Men Inc. member Christopher Brown told RTV6 he thinks the steps that city leaders are taking to combat mall violence and hold parents accountable are positive.

"I agree 100 percent," Brown said. "I feel like you shouldn't just drop your kid off and say, 'Do what you do.' I feel like they're responsible for their kids."  

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