Trumbull Police arrested three (3) teenagers following several large disturbances at the Westfield Shopping Mall Saturday evening, while crowds of other juveniles were expelled from the center over the course of several hours, due to fighting and disorderly conduct. Officers were frustrated by the crowds of youths who repeatedly circled back into the building after being expelled but were later assisted by additional officers from Bridgeport and the State Police until order was restored.
Three (3) girls, ages 13, 14, and 15, all of Bridgeport were arrested and charged with Breach of Peace when they refused to leave the area and began fighting in the presence of shoppers and officers in the Food Court. The girls also fought with officers and one spit on a trooper who had been assisting with crowd control. This 15-year-old was also charged with Assault on an Officer, and all three were later released to the custody of their guardians with a Promise to Appear in Bridgeport Juvenile Court on January 24, 2023.
At about 5:30 p.m., on January 14, 2023, police responded to the mall for several reports of a large fight that involved knives. Although there was no confirmation of weapons involved, officers found large crowds of youths throughout the shopping center, many of whom were disorderly, loud, and disruptive, and interfering with the general public who were shopping inside the mall. As officers began to escort individuals out of the center, other disturbances began at various locations elsewhere inside the building.
Due to the large number of teenagers who were creating the disturbances throughout the expansive shopping center, additional officers were requested in order to regain order inside. GBTD buses were also dispatched to provide transportation away from the mall for those involved, but many of the youths remained at the mall for several hours, despite the efforts of the police.
Similar disturbances have occurred in recent months at the mall, specifically around holidays, when youths are congregating in large groups for long periods of time. Recent meetings between town officials, including the police, and the new mall managers had just established a new cooperative working relationship and they will now begin discussions for how to best address this reoccurring issue.
Trumbull Police Chief Michael Lombardo said, "In recent talks with First Selectman Tesoro, we have agreed that we will remain in close contact with mall management on any issue impacting public safety and the mall security. We look forward to working together with them to resolve these issues and to provide additional officers for security purposes. These officer will remain as a visible deterrence for those who want to disrupt other shoppers." The Chief and First Selectman meet regularly to discuss issues related to public safety and any specific locations of concern, including the mall.
Trumbull Police will be reviewing the appropriate response to these incidents and are also encouraging the mall managers and their security guards to enforce the code of conduct that has been established on the property for many years. "This is a large facility that attracts large crowds of teenagers every weekend. Conflicts are bound to occur at times, so we will dedicate whatever resources are needed and respond when necessary," said Chief Lombardo.
In this specific incident, additional officers from other agencies were requested to assist by providing personnel through a mutual aid compact that exists between all police departments in the area. "Mutual aid" is a regular practice used in public safety when an incident or circumstances exceed the capability of normal personnel staffing levels.