North Riverside police and private security personnel turned away hundreds of kids, who arrived in waves of 40 and 50 on buses throughout the early evening hours on Dec. 27, from the North Riverside Park Mall.

Officials were prepared for the flash mob, which was advertised on social media and was slated to begin at 4 p.m.

In response, said North Riverside Police Commander David Kopka, local officials alerted the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System (NIPAS) Mobile Field Force and police in neighboring towns, who sent about 60 police officers to the mall and nearby areas to maintain order and help the mall’s private security staff deny admission to those 17 and under without adult escorts.

While the teens failed to gain entry to the mall, many stayed in the area, refusing to leave. Police ended up making five arrests, mainly for disorderly conduct and trespassing. There were no injuries or reports of property damage, Kopka said.

By 6 p.m., most of those who’d arrived at the mall for the flash mob had left the scene. Police were able to persuade the CTA to send additional buses to the mall to help transport teens back out of town.

Mall officials had initiated its youth escort policy on the evening of Dec. 27 as a precaution. They did the same thing on Dec. 13, in response to social media post calling for a flash mob that evening. That event never materialized.

There was no disruption to business inside the mall, with almost all of the teens failing to gain entry to the shopping center.

“Our goal is to keep the mall open for business and I think we were successful in that,” Kopka said.

Bob Uphues

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