Hamilton Place mall will enforce its youth escort policy the day following Christmas — a year after three people were arrested in connection with setting off fireworks inside the shopping center.
The policy, typically enforced on Fridays and Saturdays, states that any mall visitor under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian 21 years of age or older.
CBL Properties, which operates the mall among others nationally, plans to implement the policy next Tuesday across its portfolio where it's in effect, according to the Chattanooga-based company. General managers of the shopping centers will have authority to enforce the measure where it's needed.
"There has been a rising number of incidents on that day in particular nationwide," said Kim Lyons, a Hamilton Place spokeswoman.
YOUTH ESCORT POLICY
Hamilton Place mall will enforce the policy the day after Christmas. Among the policy’s key points are:
› Visitors under 18 are required to be accompanied by a parent or guardian 21 years or older.
› Individuals utilizing public or other forms of transportation must schedule their departure time to ensure compliance with the policy.
› Violators may be prosecuted for trespassing.
› Proof of age will be required if the age of the youth and/or parent or guardian is not easily determined.
› One parent, over 21 years of age, may escort all of his/her children.
› Youth under 18 working in the mall will be allowed access without a parent or guardian though proof of work status will be required.
Source: CBL Properties
Hamilton Place mall plans to put the policy into place all day next Tuesday, from 8 a.m. until closing at 9 p.m., which is a departure from the usual enforcement period.
Typically, the measure is in effect from 4 p.m. until closing on Fridays and Saturdays, said Lyons, though the policy can be implemented at management's discretion at any other day and time when deemed appropriate.
"It's one of our tools general managers have to ... be family friendly," she said.
Shoppers in the Hamilton Place area expressed support Tuesday for the move and the policy.
"I think it ought to be year-round," said Robert Parks, of Chattanooga, adding that he believes there are too many "unsavory" people at the mall.
Cathy Lynn, of Ooltewah, said the policy makes for a safer environment at the shopping center.
"I think it's a good policy to have," she said.
Lyons said that after Dec. 26, the policy will go back to its typical Friday and Saturday usage.
Last year, police arrested three people in connection with the fireworks incident at the mall.
Police said the trio entered the Victoria's Secret PINK store around 4:45 p.m., grabbing several pieces of clothing off the racks as they casually talked to each other.
Moments later, police said, one detonated a handful of firecrackers he pulled out of his jacket. They took off with at least $1,000 in merchandise, according to police, and escaped during the pandemonium that injured three people.
In total, the firecrackers caused about $2,000 in damage, police estimated in an arrest affidavit.
The trio faced charges of theft of property, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct, among others.
At least one local family filed a lawsuit in Hamilton County Circuit Court after the mall incident.
According to CBL, the policy is in effect for the entire mall except stores with exterior entrances. The policy includes walkways and any corridor leading to the mall.
In addition, unsupervised shoppers under the age of 18 will not be permitted to congregate in the mall parking lot, according to the policy.
Violators may be prosecuted for trespassing, the measure says.
The policy is not in effect at Northgate Mall, which CBL Properties also operates.
Contact staff writer Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.
This story was updated Dec. 19, 2017, at 11:45 p.m. with more information.