Mall to demand ID, limit youth access
Associated Press | March 3, 2007
WAUWATOSA - If a security guard asks Olivia Obluck-Zager to produce identification to get into the Mayfair Mall, the 16-year-old intends to take her business elsewhere.
"Why should you have to show an ID to go shopping?" asked the teen from Mukwonago, about 30 miles southwest of Milwaukee. "I think they're going to lose a lot of money."
But Mayfair Mall officials are planning to require some youths to present ID before being allowed inside the 170-store mall.
They hope the move will stem a rash of disturbances, including one in which a scuffle with police sent an 18-year-old Milwaukee man's loaded handgun flying over a second-floor railing. It didn't go off, but the teen faces multiple charges, including carrying a concealed weapon.
The policy would require that youths under an as-yet-undetermined age be accompanied by a parent or supervising adult at least 21 years old, said mall spokeswoman Nancy Conley.
On certain days and at certain times, police and mall officers would check IDs at 13 posts, including the mall's eight entrances, and in the parking lot, she said.
"This isn't intended to be Big Brother watching everyone who comes in," Conley said. "The goal is to enhance the ability to provide a comfortable family friendly atmosphere and reduce disruptions."
The policy is expected to launch in mid-April. Officials have yet to decide what the minimum age will be and what times of the week to apply the restrictions.
A similar program virtually eliminated problems at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., according to spokeswoman Anna Lewicki Long. There were 300 incidents there in 1995 - an incident is typically defined as fighting, arguing or shoplifting - but only two were documented in 1996, the year the program was launched, she said.
"Since then I've had inquiries from around the country and overseas from other malls impressed with our success and wanting to adopt the same thing," she said.
Mall of America's parental escort policy applies to unsupervised youths under 16, on Fridays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to closing at 9:30 p.m.
At Mayfair, youths over the minimum age would receive a wristband they can choose to wear to prevent other officers from carding them once inside.
Conley said a driver's license and military ID are valid forms of identification, as is a school ID that includes a photo and date of birth. Youths who don't have such IDs would only be allowed inside with a parent or supervisor, she said.
Mayfair is one of 220 malls owned by General Growth Properties of Chicago.
Obluck-Zager said she goes to Mayfair about twice a month and hasn't witnessed any problems.
But there have been a number of widely publicized disruptions that have brought police to the mall, including a brawl last month that led to the arrests of eight women aged 18 to 38.
"We know people of any age can still do disruptive things," Conley said. "We're just hoping this policy will have a positive effect on the overall shopping experience."
Conley and Long said retailers, including those that target younger customers, approve of the measures. More than 75 retailers at the Bloomington mall cater to teens, about twice as many as did before the policy was implemented, according to Long.
"There was skepticism at first," Long said, "but retailers have done better because the teens that are here now are here to shop and enjoy the attractions whereas before they were just here to hang out."
Wauwatosa police will help implement the program but it's up to Mayfair officials to monitor compliance, said police Lt. Dominic Leone.
"That's Mayfair Mall's policy, not police department policy. It's private property," he said. "It's their responsibility to check IDs to see who's in violation of their policy."