Police begin enforcing curfew
By Shavonne Potts
Now, young people really have to be off Salisbury’s streets late at night.
The city’s curfew for people younger than 16 technically went into effect July 1, but police started enforcing it Thursday night.
Police officers needed to undergo training and meet with officials from the Rowan County District Attorney’s Office, juvenile services and the Rowan County Youth Services Bureau.
Salisbury Police Chief Mark Wilhelm said Thursday training is complete and curfew violators will now face consequences.
Under the curfew, youths younger than the age of 16 won’t be allowed in public places without a parent or guardian between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and from midnight to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
If the ordinance is violated, youthful offenders are not the only ones who face penalties. Parents and guardians can face fines and possibly jail time.
“Parents are first responsible for knowing where their kids are,” Wilhelm said.
Parents or guardians will receive a warning for the first offense. The second time, a citation will be given, which could come with a fine up to $100.
A second or any subsequent offenses means the parent or guardian goes to court and possibly faces jail time.
“It really is based upon structured sentencing and the discretion of the court system,” Wilhelm said.
That means if a parent has a prior conviction, the judge can take into account whether a violation of the curfew ordinance could warrant jail time.
Business owners are also subject to fines if teens are allowed to remain past curfew.
Wilhelm has said businesses can contact police to request a youth be removed from the property if that person doesn’t leave when asked.
Teens who violate the curfew will first be issued a warning. If they commit a second offense, a contact report or complaint will be written, and the teen will then be referred to juvenile court.
A third or any subsequent violation will result in a contact report and a referral to court as a delinquent.
There are measures in place to prevent teens from severe punishment where charges could be diverted to Youth Services Bureau. The teen could receive community service or report to teen court.
Teens should not be in the streets, on sidewalks, in alleys, rights of way, parking lots, theaters, restaurants, shops and bowling alleys. They are also barred after curfew from school grounds, places of business, playgrounds and parks, according to the ordinance.
Exceptions include youths accompanied by a parent or guardian or another person older than 18 who has the permission of the guardian. If the child is on an errand for the parents or guardian that requires them to be out beyond the curfew, that person is exempt.
Also exempt are youths responding to an emergency or attending a religious or recreational activity supervised by an adult or sponsored by a school, government or a civic organization.