Security to be beefed up at Noel Night this weekend

George Hunter
The Detroit News
Take in the sights and sounds of the season as Noel Night takes over Detroit’s cultural center. Buses and carriages will shuttle revelers to 22 participating venues.

Expect plenty of cops — and a curfew — to go with caroling and cookies at this year's Noel Night.

Security will ramp up for the Saturday event, following last year's shooting that left four people wounded, police officials said. 

Officers also will strictly enforce the normal 10 p.m. city curfew for unaccompanied youths age 17 or younger, Detroit police Capt. Conway Petty said.

Last year, a fight between teenagers broke out near John R. and East Warren. Witnesses said people started running before they heard a volley of gunshots. Four people were wounded: a 4-year-old boy, a 16-year-old boy, a 17-year-old girl, and a 19-year-old man. All survived. 

Calvin Stephens, 16 of Detroit, pleaded no contest to two counts of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder and one count of felony firearm. 

Detroit police, Wayne State University police, Wayne County sheriff's deputy and private security will patrol the event, officials said. 

Investigators also have been monitoring social media for possible beefs that could flare up, although nothing has been flagged, said Petty, who oversees special events.

"So far, we haven't seen anything online to indicate there'll be any trouble," Petty said. "But we'll continue to monitor up until the day of the event.

"We're also going to enforce the regular curfew, so people need to pick up their kids by 10 o'clock," Petty said. "We're telling parents: Don't wait until 10 to pick up your kids; get them before that."

Petty said curfew violators will be sent to a location at Wayne State University. "We'll keep them there until their parents pick them up, and we'll issue parental responsibility tickets," he said. A parental responsibility citation is a misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to $500.

Immediately following last year's shooting, organizers said they considered cancelling the event. Instead, there will be increased security this year. Event planners and police originally had considered imposing a curfew for the entire event, but instead decided to move the activities in the cultural center area to the daytime, with evening events in the Midtown district.

Wayne State Police Chief Anthony Holt said he will deploy more officers and mounted police this year.

"We had the mounted unit out last year, but only for a short time," Holt said. "I think the overall coordination has been better this year. We've met several times, and a plan will be put into effect."

Petty said last year's violence was a spur-of-the-moment flareup, which is difficult to prevent.

"A lot of times, these things start because I bumped into you; or you looked at me wrong; or you go to Cass (Technical High School), and you go to (Martin Luther) King (High School)," Petty said. "These are things you can't prevent; you just have to try to get out in front of them, which we've done."
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