Police, organizers taking steps to limit disorderly behavior at Friday Night Live

By Matt Masterson - Freeman Staff

Aug. 7, 2015

WAUKESHA - Dozens of teens are believed to be responsible for a string of fights and disorderly conduct violations at recent Friday Night Lives, leading police and event organizers to ramp up their efforts to ensure a safe, family-friendly environment for guests.

Multiple arrests were made by the Waukesha Police Department during last week’s FNL - many of which were caused by the group of juveniles who were fighting with each other, using profane language and in some cases, resisting officers.

To combat the spread of such behavior at the event, the department is planning an increased presence at tonight’s Friday Night Live, including more officers and a mobile command post stationed in the area.

“We are realizing we need to address the safety concerns down there and address the concerns of everybody else who goes there to have a good time,” Waukesha Police Capt. Ron Oremus said. “... We also really want to focus on the good kids in that group to try and establish a friendly relationship with them and hopefully they can see we are there really to keep everybody having a good time.”

Between 50 and 75 juveniles between the ages of 14 and 18 have been congregating on the east side of the event on Main Street in recent weeks, Oremus said. Some of the teens are locals, while others are dropped off from Milwaukee to meet with friends in Waukesha.

While they typically begin fighting, or play fighting, among themselves, their behavior has become disruptive to other guests looking to enjoy the family-friendly nature of the event.

“What we believe is that the majority of those kids are probably good kids that have no intention of doing anything wrong,” Oremus said. “However, sometimes that group mentality sets in and some of these are bad kids that just find themselves acting out.”

According to the Police Department’s press report from last Friday, officers responded to at least five separate incidents - including disorderly conduct, fighting and juvenile trouble - in the area of Friday Night Live while the event was going on.

In addition to an increased police presence, the department will also be video-recording the crowd at this week’s event to document any further disorderly behavior.

The Police Department has met with the Waukesha Downtown Business Association this week to coordinate efforts. Susie Taylor, who organizes FNL along with her brother-in-law Don Taylor, said she is aware of recent incidents and has drafted a code of conduct for guests that will go into effect this week.

“Some of the kids ... might need to be reminded about the expectations or how to behave at an event,” she said. “We want to make these kids aware of the rules right off the bat. They have to behave to be here. Everyone is welcome as long as they behave.”

Taylor said guests will be asked to walk or ride bicycles slowly at the event, while trick skateboarding, profane language - which Taylor believes is the root of many of the disorderly conduct complaints - and fighting or play fighting are all prohibited.

In addition, all dogs must be kept on leashes and alcohol can only be consumed on the street in the permitted dining areas.

Both Oremus and Taylor stressed that Friday Night Live remains a safe event, and these new measures are only there to keep things from getting out of hand in the future.

“We don’t want bad apples trying to wreck what has become a real positive event for the downtown, so we are going to prevent that from happening some way or another,” Oremus said. “We hope these efforts we put in (tonight) will be a good start to that.”

New code of conduct for Friday Night Live, effective tonight:

-Guests must walk or ride bicycles slowly.

-Trick skateboarding, profane language, fighting or play fighting are strictly prohibited.

-Dogs must be on leashes.

-Alcohol can only be consumed in permitted dining areas.

Email: mmasterson@conleynet.com