Lenox Square enhances security with new rules for minors

Lenox+has+signs+posted+throughout+the+mall+alerting+visitors+of+its+new+policies+for+those+under+18.+If+a+minor+remains+unaccompanied+by+an+adult+any+day+after+3+p.m.%2C+they+will+be+asked+to+leave+the+Buckhead+property.+

Jamie Marlowe

Lenox has signs posted throughout the mall alerting visitors of its new policies for those under 18. If a minor remains unaccompanied by an adult any day after 3 p.m., they will be asked to leave the Buckhead property.

Jamie Marlowe

In response to community feedback and a desire for a secure shopping environment, Lenox Square announced new restrictions for visitors under 18.

The Youth Supervision Policy, effective Sep. 21, requires all minors visiting Lenox Mall after 3 p.m. to be accompanied by someone 21 or older. One adult can chaperone up to four minors. The policy is part of the mall’s broader security program, which includes the addition of metal detectors, more patrols and a K-9 unit.

The rules were prompted by persistent violence at the mall, particularly an instance where two armed 15-year-olds were charged with shooting a security guard during an attempted robbery in the summer.

Urban Outfitters employee Avery Hurst doesn’t think young people are the biggest threat to violence in the area.

“I was a little perplexed by them choosing to not let [minors] in,” Hurst said.

The new rules are welcomed by residents and Atlanta law enforcement, but some frequent Lenox shoppers, such as junior Kadavy Bergstrom, are disappointed.

“I understand, but it does frustrate me because now I find myself not wanting to go there,” Bergstrom said. “I’m not very happy about having to have my mom follow me and my friends around the mall. It feels really inconvenient.”

Under the new restrictions, young shoppers may be asked for photo identification, and wristbands are handed out at the main entrance to identify minors and their chaperones. Unaccompanied minors will be asked to leave the property.

Forever 21 employee Danaria Brown said she has already noticed a significant drop in young people at the mall.

“I think [the restrictions] will affect business because a lot of young people like to shop at Lenox because of the stores they have,” Brown said. “For them to change the curfew is bad for younger people.”

Hurst is also concerned with how the new policy could change business in the long term.

“I was actually really nervous about [business], but I was partnered with our district manager, and she partnered with other district managers that she knows that have malls that have similar policies, and they didn’t really notice an impactful dip in business,” Hurst said. “I think our business is going to go down because we do have a younger demographic, so I’ll be curious to see once I do start seeing the younger people stop coming in as often.”

Junior Emilia Weinrobe’s parents have never allowed her to go to Lenox Square alone, regardless of the time of day.

“I’m not allowed to go because my mom read about these shootings at Lenox, and she was worried that I could end up in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Weinrobe said. “I would never go alone, in general, but I guess my parents knowing that they would have to be with me would help convince them to let me go [to Lenox].”

Some shoppers support the new rules. Jason Hardy* had been avoiding Lenox and said large groups of teenagers made the mall feel chaotic.

“The last time I came, which was not that long ago, it was scary,” Hardy said. “It seems like a better atmosphere now. It feels more secure.”

Hardy said he looks forward to returning to Lenox on a regular basis.

“I don’t know; I just feel safer,” Hardy said. “It just seems like there’s more security. They had to do what they had to do. They need to do this, if they want to survive.”

Visiting the Buckhead mall is a popular pastime for teenagers. Bergstrom said she will likely explore new avenues with her friends.

“I’m already kind of looking for new places to go, particularly Atlantic Station, because it’s kind of the same thing, but I don’t have to have my parent follow me,” Bergstrom said. “I want to go somewhere where I can feel independent and just hang out with my friends.”

However, Atlantic Station has a similar policy. The shopping area’s Code of Conduct requires all visitors under18 to be accompanied by adults after 6 p.m. each day. Other Atlanta malls like Cumberland and Perimeter malls have also stepped up security in response to increased violence.

On Sep. 26, a man fled two armed robbers in the mall parking lot, one firing a shot at him. Bergstrom said violence can happen at any point in the day and from people of any age. She thinks there are better options for Lenox Square.

“I understand their goals, especially because of the rising violence in Atlanta,” Bergstrom said. “I do think that it could help, but I feel like it might not be the best solution.”

* The name Jason Hardy is an anonymous name.

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