Oklahoma City parents complain police wrongly rounded up teenagers in Bricktown

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said some of the complaints parents made after a curfew sweep Saturday night were valid.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Published: July 20, 2011
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Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty agreed Tuesday his officers made mistakes Saturday when they rounded up about 20 teenagers on curfew violations in front of the Harkins Bricktown Cinema and hauled them away in what one parent described as a “paddy wagon.”

Several parents complained about the curfew sweep at Tuesday's Oklahoma City Council meeting. Parents said officers arrested the teens at least 20 minutes before the 11 p.m. curfew began.

Some of the children arrested were waiting for rides after attending a movie, which is allowed under the city's curfew statute. Others were accompanied to the theater by adults but arrested anyway while their parents retrieved their vehicles.

Peggy Hammons' daughter, Kelsea, and her friend, Brittney Campbell, both 15, attended an 8:20 p.m. showing of “Transformers” at Harkins with Brittney's mother. The movie let out just before 11, and the two teens waited in front of the theater while Brittney's mom got the car.

“A female police officer approached them, instructed them to hand over their cellphones and get over and get in that paddy wagon,” Peggy Hammons said. “My daughter and her friend were never once asked, ‘Were you there to see the movie and do you have a ticket?' They tried to explain to the police officers, and they were told to shut up and be quiet.”

Valenthia Doolin, of Oklahoma City, said she arrived to pick up her kids at 10:40 p.m. and found a line of police cars and vans. Her children were not answering their cellphones. Panicked, she parked and walked to the theater but could not find her kids.

She eventually received a text message from her son saying they had been picked up on a curfew violation.

Doolin said officers refused to listen when they pointed out their mom's car and said their ride was there minutes before the curfew began.

“We felt violated, harassed and frightened at the hands of Oklahoma City law enforcement,” Doolin said. “Something has to be done to ensure that it never happens again.”

Citty said officers conducted the sweep because of an increase in assaults and other complaints involving juveniles in Bricktown after hours. He said at least two of the citations issued Saturday have been dismissed because they shouldn't have been issued to begin with. Others could also be thrown out.



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