Police, mall officials have zero tolerance for misconduct during holidays

2012-11-19T18:15:00Z 2012-12-14T16:05:11Z Police, mall officials have zero tolerance for misconduct during holidaysDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

HOBART | Police will have zero tolerance this holiday season for any type of misconduct at Westfield Southlake mall, Sgt. Jeremy Ogden said.

In light of a recent shooting and fight at the mall, Hobart police and mall officials met to discuss an action plan, Ogden said.

That plan includes beefed up police and security presence inside the mall during the holidays and heightened police patrols outside in the U.S. 30 retail corridor, Ogden said.

"The mall officials and police are doing everything they can to make it safe out there," Ogden said.

In addition, both mall and police officials will continue to enforce and publicize the mall's code of conduct in existence since 2002, Ogden said.

"Those who don't follow the code of conduct can be removed and not allowed back into the mall for up to a year," Ogden said.

The code of conduct, which lists 17 violations, is posted at every entrance of the mall.

A card, listing the violations, is also available at the mall, Ogden said.

Under the code of conduct, individuals can't physically or verbally threaten any person, can't fight, annoy others, follow another person or use sexually explicit language or conduct, or in any way cause a disturbance that is disruptive or dangerous to patrons.

Other violations, which can result in an individual's removal from the mall, include congregating or loitering in groups of three or more, the use of physical force, obscene language or ethnic slurs, and the possession of any item that could be used as a weapon.

"The code of conduct has been enforced since 2002 when Westfield took over the mall, but it's not been publicized in the news media," Ogden said.

On Sunday, four individuals were taken into custody after a shoplifting incident at the mall that resulted in a fight involving police and mall security, Ogden said.

The four, including three men from Lansing and one woman from Highland, were charged Monday in Lake Superior Court with resisting arrest and battery on law enforcement.

The mall, on U.S. 30 east of Mississippi Street, was evacuated about 6:30 p.m. Nov. 10 after a shot was fired in one of the mall's open areas after two groups of youths got into a fight.

Off-duty Hobart police officers working mall security apprehended three teens, who were later charged in Lake County Juvenile Court, Evans said.

The three teens, ages 14, 15 and 16, were from Gary.

A fourth teen, a 15-year-old from Gary, was later arrested and also charged, police said.

Charges against the youths included battery, criminal recklessness, having a pistol with no permit and pointing a firearm, Ogden said.

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