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Growing teen crowd at Gateway Shopping Center causing concern in Thomasville

“There aren’t many places in Thomasville to hang out with your friends and they’re kind of ruining that for us”
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 10:30 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2021 at 10:33 AM EDT
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THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WCTV) - The Thomasville Police Department is calling on parents to help decrease growing concerns with unaccompanied minors.

Corporal Crystal Parker said that the Gateway Shopping Center, popularly known for the movie theater, is one of the few attractions for teens in the city. Parker said during the summer to fall months the area becomes a hangout spot for teens and young adults. Recently, a lot of disturbances have been happening in that area.

“Fights break out. We start getting complaints, we get multiple phone calls to dispatch,” said Parker.

Body camera footage from a Saturday night showed an estimated 60 people mainly thought to be teens unaccompanied. The video shows officers running toward what looks like kids fighting. Parker said unfortunately after breaking up one fight, the kids would just move to another location like the bowling alley and congregate again.

One Thomasville High School student said she’s disappointed in the behavior of her peers, and that her parents don’t allow her to go to the movies because of some of the recent incidents. With little to do in Thomasville for the younger crowd, she said she believes these issues are ruining things for the kids that actually go out and do the right thing.

“There aren’t many places in Thomasville to hang out with your friends and they’re kind of ruining that for us,” said Richia Mitchell.

There’s a city curfew that requires teens to be accompanied by an adult after 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, the curfew is extended to midnight. Officials said if kids are caught out after these designated times they could be cited, and parents could also be held accountable.

Mitchell and several of her friends said they believe the crowds would decrease if there were more attractions for the younger population. The teens also called on their peers to make better decisions when they’re out and about.

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