VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) — Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach is implementing a new chaperone rule after an incident this weekend involving juveniles led to the mall’s closure.
The mall says the new rule, which begins Friday, January 1, has been under discussion for a while but it’s being launched this weekend in response to the incident.
A Virginia Beach police spokesperson said there were reports of a “group of teenagers that kept getting into fights” at the mall Saturday evening. There were no injuries reported, no shooting occurred and no known weapon violations “as rumored,” the spokesperson said.
The Parental Guidance Required (PGR) program will require guests under the age of 18 to be accompanied by a parent or supervising adult of at least 21 years of age on Fridays and Saturdays starting at 4 p.m. The new rule will be strictly enforced throughout the mall, including at the entrances.
MacArthur Center in Norfolk has a similar policy that goes into effect at 5 p.m. seven days a week.
“In an effort to eliminate disruptive behavior by unsupervised youth, we made the decision to implement a curfew program at Lynnhaven Mall,” said Michael Harris, general manager of the mall. “Providing an environment where everyone feels comfortable is paramount, and the PGR program is an added safety measure to help achieve this. We want to be clear that all are welcome at Lynnhaven Mall and at any time. We simply require that during certain times, families shop together.”
The mall says trained public safety officers will be at all mall entrances to check IDs (state issued driver’s license or ID card, a military ID, a school ID card, or a passport), and those that can’t provide ID will need a chaperone. One adult can accompany up to four youths.
Those over 18 will be given optional wristbands upon entry. Those who choose to not wear one may be asked for ID again inside, the mall says.
“Lynnhaven Mall has been a vital part of our community for 40 years, a premier shopping center that serves residents and visitors to our great city,” said Michael Berlucchi, council member for the Rose Hall District. “As a member of our City Council, I fully support our valued community partner, Lynnhaven Mall, as they take an extra step in their security measures. This PGR at Lynnhaven Mall will help ensure a pleasant and safe environment that will benefit every member of our community.”
Lynnhaven Mall was also the recent site of an innocent man being detained by Virginia Beach police. A video of the incident was shared many times on social media, and picked up by national news outlets.
Police Chief Paul Neudigate apologized for the incident, and said the department would be doing an internal review of the incident.