Michael Konopasek, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City police arrested dozens of teens for violating curfew in Bricktown over the weekend. The arrests occurred outside the Harkins Theater.
Some parents have said their kids were arrested before the 11 p.m. curfew last weekend and they are upset because the law makes an exception for kids going to see late movies.
The police chief said the arrests were part of a sweep after an increase in juvenile assault cases in the area.
Police said those recent arrests are just the beginning of the problem. They said there's been an increase of kids loitering in Bricktown after curfew, which is breeding crime from vandalism to assaults.
On July 15 and 16, 43 minors were loaded into police paddy wagons for apparently breaking curfew, according to police.
"[The teens] were on those vans prior to 11 o'clock, which means they really didn't violate curfew," said one of the parents whose child was arrested.
Parents said police were a bit overzealous in arresting juveniles over the weekend, and the department is not denying those claims, but, some sources at the department said, the bigger issue is the rise in crime due to the minors.
Those police sources said that more than a week ago a group of teens was involved in a stabbing outside the Bricktown IHOP.
Police said it is not uncommon for several hundred kids to gather outside Harkins Theatre causing fights, vandalism and petty theft.
"When you're in that big of a group you become invincible and you think, well, they can't arrest us all," said Capt. Patrick Stewart.
Police said there has been an increase of underage teens breaking the curfew. It kicks in at 11 p.m. but some business owners said it's time for drastic change.
"Something like 6 p.m. [for a curfew] if you're a minor, you need to be with an adult," said Bricktown business owner Danny Falcone.
Falcone, of Falcone's Pizzeria, has seen vandalism at his business. He said it forced him to hire his own security guard.
"It's gotten worse in the last couple years," said Falcone. "It's gotten bad. Nobody wants to walk through a crowd of 40 kids to go sit down with their wife and kids."
Police said they will continue to strictly enforce curfew laws, but will be more thoughtful about each case when arrests might not be necessary.
Police said Bricktown is still a safe place. There are more police in Bricktown than any other area of Oklahoma City per square mile, they said. There are usually four officers who patrol Bricktown, but on the weekends there can be anywhere from nine to 13 officers in the one square mile entertainment district.