- Associated Press - Sunday, January 3, 2016

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Several teens were turned away from a suburban Louisville mall on the first day the shopping center began a new chaperone rule stemming from a recent disturbance involving a large number of unruly juveniles.

Signs placed prominently about Mall St. Matthews informed customers about the so-called Parental Guidance Required program that began Saturday, The Courier-Journal (https://cjky.it/1PFtgah ) reported.

Security officials were stationed at the mall’s public entrances, asking IDs of anyone that appeared to look under the age of 25, while more security guards roamed the food court and the rest of the center looking for anyone who might be underage and unaccompanied, the newspaper reported.

The new policy requires teens and pre-teens to have an adult escort during certain hours. The rule was put in place following the disturbance at the popular mall a week ago. The restriction requires teens under the age of 18 to have adult supervision after 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Saturday was the first day the new program went into effect.

The mall’s general manager, David Jacoby, said there would not be mall security checking IDs at entrances that go directly into a particular store, saying that “we don’t want to hinder the retailers from doing business.”

Mall officials have said the Parental Guidance Required program is temporary, but have not indicated an end date for the program.

Chris Heintzman and his girlfriend, Tiffany Svoboda, both 16, were caught up in the new restrictions Saturday afternoon. The teens had done some shopping and were sitting on a bench waiting for Svoboda’s stepmother to finish her shift at a mall restaurant when a security guard stopped to question them.

“I felt insulted,” Heintzman said. “We were sitting on a bench, not doing anything.”

“I don’t think it’s necessary for parents to be right there by our side the whole time,” Svoboda added.

Security officials allowed the teens to go to the restaurant to wait for Svoboda’s stepmother.

Young adults who were carded and OK’ed by security were offered bright blue wristbands to show other security personnel that they didn’t need to be stopped again. But the wristbands caused some confusion with a few consumers, with some asking why they needed to be marked if they were of legal age.

Deanna Vance of Crestwood took her 14-year-old daughter and three of her cousins shopping Saturday afternoon. Vance said she was glad to see the mall’s new policy, saying she’d seen the culture of the Mall St. Matthews decline in recent years, although she said she had never personally witnessed any problems at the center.

On the previous Saturday evening, as many as 65 police officers from several agencies converged on Mall St. Matthews after receiving several reports of a large number of unruly juveniles.

The new chaperone rule also went into effect at Oxmoor Center.


Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com

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