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Police chief proposes curfew for youth

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
Should Salisbury have a nightly curfew for kids under 16?
Police Chief Mark Wilhelm thinks so, and Salisbury City Council will hold a public hearing June 16 on his proposed “Youth Protection Ordinance,” which includes a curfew.
The curfew would make it unlawful for juveniles to be in a public places between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday-Thursday and between 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The ordinance’s definition for public places would include restaurants, theaters, stores, bowling alleys, schools, playgrounds, parks, streets, sidewalks and parking lots.
Juveniles violating the curfew would be subject to being referred to juvenile court or diverted from court to an appropriate community program.
Parents or guardians and owners or operators of establishments where the curfew is violated also can be held accountable under the ordinance. They could be found guilty of a misdemeanor and fined $100.
A parent or guardian violates the ordinance “if he or she knowingly permits, or by insufficient control, allows the juvenile to remain in any public place or on the premises of any establishment … during the restricted hours.”
“This requirement is intended,” the ordinance adds, “to hold neglectful or careless parents up to a reasonable community standard of parental responsibility through an objective test. It shall, therefore, be no defense that a parent was completely indifferent to the activities or conduct or whereabouts of such juvenile.”
Wilhelm stressed Tuesday that the curfew proposal allows for several exceptions.
A juvenile would not be in violation of the curfew if he or she is with a parent or guardian or accompanied by an adult 18 years or older who has been authorized by the parent to be with the juvenile.
Exceptions also are spelled out for things such as emergencies; being en route on school-, civic- or church-related activities; traveling from a place of employment; traveling in a motor vehicle with a parent or guardian; or having a special permit from the Police Department.
The proposed Youth Protection Ordinance and curfew has the endorsement of the Gang Prevention Core Group, which organized the gang and youth summits the city held after 13-year-old Treasure Feamster’s death in a shooting in 2007.
The Core Group met most recently on May 18, Mayor Susan Kluttz reported.
Wilhelm said he looked at several youth ordinances and curfews in other cities and liked those in Charlotte and Monroe the best.
He said some municipalities apply the curfew to people 18 and under, but he told council members Tuesday he thought that age restriction would be too difficult to enforce.
“We could always push it up if council (saw) the necessity to do so,” Wilhelm said.

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