INDIANAPOLIS - Metro police had another large contingent of officers downtown over the weekend to keep the peace at Circle Centre Mall, but the latest episode of youth violence occurred at Castleton Square, and the city's faith-based community said police should have been better prepared.
Shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday, security personnel ejected a number of juveniles from Castleton Square Mall. The kids took their issues across the street to McDonald's, where dozens of juveniles began to fight.
Police arrested two youths, one of whom had a gun.
A short time later, police arrested more juveniles for a fight inside the Sears store.
"The resources that we had in place did help us get up there and make a quick response to Castleton," said Sgt. Michael Hewitt, with Metro police.
Police had deployed most of their resources downtown at Circle Centre Mall with its long history of juvenile violence.
Members of the faith-based Ten Point Coalition had predicted that the juveniles would find their way to where police are not.
"They were going to wait us out or go someplace else. We knew that what happened downtown was going to happen at Castleton once we knew the kids were there," said Rev. Charles Harrison, president of the Ten Point Coalition. "If we put a lot of resources in Castleton and downtown, the kids are going to find another place to go."
The faith-based community says that churches need help from the city to open safe havens that offer constructive alternatives to hanging out in the mall.
But until cash-strapped Indianapolis can find funding, Metro police will pursue their current strategy with a new wrinkle that now includes going after troubled youth and their parents.
"That's the conversation we're having. We're going to track these cases to make sure they're fully adjudicated," said IMPD Chief Rick Hite. "But at the same time, we're not backing down. We're going to continue this. We need to make strict enforcement of this and we need to hold these parents accountable for their young people."
Simon Property Group hasn't changed its position, still remaining firm against imposing juvenile curfews or parental chaperones.
But, after this latest incident, Metro police said that Simon Property Group has agreed to hire more off-duty police officers to improve security.