Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Teenagers Are Baaaack.....

He's not Robocop, but the off-duty Westlake cop retained by Borders in Crocker Park is one lean, mean, teenager-rustling machine. The only thing more effective, I imagine, would be a border collie. As I've pointed out in previous posts, teenagers--when clustered together--can be one big mess of trouble. Let's face it: kids are noisy and, if left to their own unsupervised devices, potentially troublesome. In public shopping areas, teenagers often congregate in large numbers and intimidate ordinary adults. Some shopping centers try to ignore the problem, and others (such as Borders in Westlake) tackle it head-on.

Sipping lattes at the Borders cafe last night, I noticed that the background noise level had risen sharply. At the far end of the cafe (near the main entrance), a dozen or so teenagers were hanging out. This comes as little surprise, since there's a movie theatre immediately adjacent to the bookstore, so during the changeover times (7 pm and 9:30pm) there is usually an influx of customers. These kids, unsurprisingly, were yelling a lot and disturbing all of us quiet-minded folk who just wanted to read our magazines and relax.

Within minutes, the cop moseyed over to the group. In a booming, stentorian voice he announced: "GENTLEMAN, TAKE IT OUTSIDE." The effect was immediate--the group left.

For the next half-hour or so, groups of teenagers wandered into the store to hang out, make noise, and most importantly (from the store's perspective) not actually buy anything. The cop was on top of the situation.

To four kids who had commandeered the plusher chairs: "GENTLEMAN, YOU MUST BUY SOMETHING TO SIT. PLEASE LEAVE."

To the kid who tried to argue: "DON'T PLAY GAMES WITH ME."

To the group of six of whom one had bought a coffee: "THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH; PLEASE LEAVE."

All in all, I was very impressed. The cop was stern, commanding, but not mean or threatening. He was forceful in presence, and the kids responded appropriately.

Now that's effective public space security!


Anonymous Nell said...

You are so old. You're bordering on "curmudgeon" status now ...

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Tara said...

Curmudgeonly behavior aside, businesses have to crack down on this behavior. Suburban teens gather in crowds so large (and loud) that it is impossible for paying customers to do something as simple as sit and drink coffee.

(And I know how this works: as a teenager, my group often tried to rationalize how we could take up an eight-person table at Perkins with the purchase of one coffee and non-purchase of a bunch of waters. This is what bored kids do. And we managed to push out plenty of paying customers.)

By having a security guard on duty, a business can assure the comfort of its customers. There is also a security issue, as theft is a huge issue in cities and suburbs alike.

12:47 PM  

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