Police on the lookout for teens staging fights for media attention

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- St. Louis city police are on the lookout for teens who are staging fights to get media attention.

As the pleasant weather finally begins to return, so do the roving groups of teens that use social media to organize anything from innocent gatherings to real criminal activity.

The latest challenge to authorities is flash fighting, designed to draw attention to the participants, attention that might wind up on the ten pm news.

Local leaders want to see happy crowds of fans and tourists filling the region's public venues. Not roaming packs of teens flooding entertainment areas and breaking laws as happened one weekend a year ago.

"It`s very disturbing because we spend a lot of time trying to keep people safe. And they are doing just the opposite. They are coming together to cause havoc and problems and whether it is in the Delmar Loop, the Galleria, anywhere. It is a big problem,” said St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson.

You've heard of flash mobs that suddenly converge on a shopping area or street, this year flash fights are the latest mutation of teens seeking attention.

"The last one they purposefully went to the Loop and they are planning another one at another high profile location and they are videotaping it to get attention," stated Jeff Rainford, Mayor Francis Slay’s Chief Of Staff.

The video of the scuffle, which Fox2 and KPLR have blurred, was posted on Youtube and Facebook this month.

Both the mayor's chief of staff and the police chief say parents and the news media have a role to play here.

"If we don `t want this happening in high profile places where we all go then let`s not give them what they want which is just the free publicity," said Rainford.

"I think the first question you have to start with is, where is the parental involvement? The police department`s job isn`t to raise children; it is to keep people safe. So the first thing I want to say is hey parents know what your children are doing," stated Chief Dotson.

Local police promise a coordinated effort across city lines to show up in force in hopes of discouraging any future flash fights.