Mall fights prompt security policy questions

Michelle Gallardo Image
Monday, December 29, 2014
Mall security following brawl
Mall security following brawl

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It has been a chaotic weekend at shopping malls across the United States, including in the Chicago area, as fights involving groups of teenagers have forced shoppers to flee.

The brawl that broke out Saturday night at Chicago Ridge Mall is another example of why some people are asking what can be done to improve security and safety.

Fortunately no one was injured as a result of Saturday's incident at the Chicago Ridge Mall, but the fight highlighted an issue that is becoming an increasing problem nationwide. It is forcing some malls to rethink their policies regarding underage, unacompanied teenagers.

Everything was back to normal at the Chicago Ridge Mall Sunday, one day after having to shut down early as a result of a fight that broke out between a large group of teens. The fight prompted a large police response after initial reports went out that a shooting had taken place.

Fights like these are not new to shopping malls. Just this past week police were called to malls in Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Missouri for similar situations.

Some malls are already taking action. In May of 2013 North Riverside Park became the first shopping center in Illinois to implement what is known as a youth escort policy. It restricts anyone under 17 years old from entering the mall after six p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays unless they are accompanied by an adult over 21.

"We feel it's an excellent tool that's at our disposal to help keep the shopping environment pleasant," said mall manager Harvey Ahitow. "It's meant to be a shopping environment and not a social environment."

North Riverside says the policy has eliminated the problem of teen fights inside the mall, and patrons appreciate it.

While the management at Chicago Ridge Mall was not talking Sunday, Saturday's fight prompted other shopping centers in the area to step up security, including Orland Square.

"There's uniformed police officers in and around the mall," said Commander John Keating, Orland Park Police. "There's no direct threat that we've received. However just as a preventive measure you'll see more police (Sunday)."

No arrests were made at Chicago Ridge Mall Saturday night.

Chicago Ridge police issued a statement late Sunday explaining that the gunshots reported were in fact a merchant in the food court banging a large metal pot in an effort to disperse the crowd gathered in front of his business.

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