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Nights out end for teens on July 1 when curfew kicks in

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
Salisbury’s new curfew for juveniles (under the age of 16) will take effect July 1.
In a press release Thursday, the city said police officers will approach an apparent curfew offender and obtain the youth’s age and reason for being in a public place during the restricted hours.
Should the officer determine that a curfew violation has occurred, a juvenile contact report or complaint will be filed, and the juvenile will be removed from the area and taken into custody, the release said.
The violators will be subject to referral by complaint to the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Beginning July 1, it will be unlawful for children under the age of 16 to be in public places without a parent or guardian between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday-Thursday and from midnight to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
After a curfew violation is determined, the youth’s parents or guardians will be contacted immediately and be required to meet with the officer, who is allowed to release the curfew violator into the custody of them only.
Parents and guardians of youth who violate the curfew can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a $100 fine, as can businesses.
The owner, operator or employee of an establishment who allows juveniles to remain on the premises during restricted hours will be in violation of the ordinance.
“To defend their establishment from violation and potential fines, establishments should request that youth dismiss from the property prior to the onset of curfew restricted hours,” Police Chief Mark Wilhelm said.
Wilhelm said businesses can contact the Police Department and request that youth be removed from their properties prior to the curfew.
Quoting language from the ordinance, Wilhelm said the curfew’s intent is “to hold neglectful or careless parents up to a reasonable community standard of parental responsibility through an objective test, and a parent’s indifference to their child’s activity will not be accepted as a reasonable defense.”
A communications effort is under way, Wilhelm added, to inform parents, juveniles and establishments about the curfew and what violations entail.
“We are working under official authorization of our Salisbury City Council,” Wilhelm said. “Their directive is to take any and all approved steps to protect citizens and youth of our community.”
Council adopted the Youth Protection Ordinance Tuesday by a 5-0 vote.
Places where youth should not be without supervision during the curfew include streets, sidewalks, alleys, rights of way, parking lots, theaters, restaurants, shops and bowling alleys.
Schools, school grounds, places of business and amusement, playgrounds and parks also out of bounds during the curfew, according to the ordinance.
Wilhelm has emphasized the new law allows for many exceptions, such as for youth traveling to and from school and religious and civic-sponsored events.
“In addition, youth traveling to places of employment or responding to emergencies are excluded,” he said.
“The ordinance was not adopted to inhibit positive youth activity or activity that is supervised properly.”
Mayor Susan Kluttz said the curfew’s goal is to prevent juvenile crime while also protecting youth from being victims of crime.

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