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Published: Saturday, 2/20/2010

Security is prevalent weekend after fight at biggest area mall

BLADE STAFF

Westfield Franklin Park was busy but calm last night, with a beefed-up security presence less than a week after a fight among young people led to 16 arrests.

About a dozen Toledo police officers and at least as many private security guards, all in uniform, patrolled the mall and were stationed at the entrances near the food court.

Some of the private security personnel passed out flyers to youngsters outlining Toledo's curfew law, which restricts the hours everyone under age 18 can be out in public.

Also observed was a five-member team dressed in dark fatigues and shirts that read "T.S.C. Security" on the back.

Mall management earlier this week said it planned to increase weekend security but declined to release specifics.

The increased security was in response to the fight last Satur-day night that broke out near the food court, below the upstairs movie theaters. Police said nearly 150 teenagers and young adults participated in the melee, which started at about 7 p.m.

Three teens were arrested for assault, seven for failing to disperse, three for disorderly conduct, and two for criminal trespass, according to police reports.

Police distributed this flyer at Westfield Franklin Park last night after a fight in the mall last week led to 16 arrests. City of Toledo and mall leaders have mulled ways to better work together. Police distributed this flyer at Westfield Franklin Park last night after a fight in the mall last week led to 16 arrests. City of Toledo and mall leaders have mulled ways to better work together.
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One adult, Jerome Woodward, 20, of 2906 Warsaw St., was arrested for disorderly conduct.

City and Westfield Franklin Park officials have been in consultations this week over what to do to prevent a repeat of last Saturday night in Toledo's only remaining indoor mall.

In a joint news release issued yesterday, Westfield Franklin Park general manager Erika Williams said the mall was considering adopting a "parental escort policy" that would require minors entering the mall to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

"We are working toward long-term solutions and further study is required to better understand the logistics, implementation, enforcement protocols, and consequences of such a policy," Ms. Williams said.

In the release, Toledo Mayor Mike Bell noted the importance of the mall to the community.

"Westfield Franklin Park contributes to both the city and county tax bases and has acted as a committed community partner and responsible corporate citizen," the mayor said.

"The city will continue to work with Westfield to ensure the safety and well-being of its patrons and vendors - as we work to do with all businesses in the community."

The mayor also urged parents "to take some responsibility to ensure that their kids are acting in an appropriate, positive, and respectful manner at the mall. If the city is asked to respond to an incident, we will have zero tolerance for the type of behavior that was exhibited last weekend."

One mall vendor in the food court said news reports, especially those on television, grossly misrepresented the fight last Saturday.

Bill Stearns, the owner of Dippin' Dots, said he saw the whole altercation and "This was no 'brawl.'•"

"This was a fight between some teenage girls who kicked over trash cans. Most of that crowd was just watching what was happening. They weren't fighting," he said.

Mr. Stearns, who rents 150 square feet in the food court, said his business has suffered all week.

He hoped mall officials did not adopt a youth curfew or parental escort policy.

"That will throw the baby out with the bath water. It's only 2 percent who are ruining it for the rest of us," he said.



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