Trustees look into setting curfew for minors
The township is one of only a few communities in Mahoning County without a curfew.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
POLAND -- Robert Rushton says young people are up late, making noise and getting into trouble in the Clyde Street neighborhood.
Last week they set off firecrackers. This week, they burned a contractor's sign in his front yard. Teenagers on the block have also vandalized his neighbor's car.
A curfew, he said, would keep them safe.
Most Mahoning County communities have curfews that require juveniles to stay indoors at night, but Poland Township is one of the few without such a policy.
"It's part of the problem," said Rushton, 67. "Kids are up until 1 or 2 in the morning and sleep until 1 or 2 in the afternoon and start all over again. Parents don't have control. Parents are always working, or they stepped out. And kids are on their own."
Rushton took his concerns to the township trustees meeting this week, prompting trustees to ask Police Chief Carl Massullo to look into the issue and present a recommendation at next month's meeting.
Massullo won't have any problem fulfilling their request. In 1997, he urged then-trustees to adopt a curfew and has a file documenting his research supporting the recommendation.
"I have never wavered from that position," Massullo said. "I would like to think the young people of the community are capable of making wise decisions, but unfortunately, experience has shown they are not.
"Children need guidance and strong parental support. A lack of proper monitoring by parents seems to only exacerbate an ongoing problem in which young people ... engage in activities that don't serve to improve the life of the community."
Rushton, who has lived in the township for 41 years, said the young people in the neighborhoods aren't bad but do cause some problems. A curfew would help to keep them safe and out of trouble.
"I think a curfew would help them just as much as the homeowners," he said.
Five years ago, the chief said, the board did not support a curfew, although he had received more letters in support of it than against it.
Statistics, Massullo said, support a curfew. In Poland Township, the second-most common crime is destruction of property, most often committed by juveniles after 11 p.m. Since summer vacation began at local schools, he has seen a notable increase in post-11 p.m. crimes attributable to juveniles.
Warning for first offense
Massullo said he will do more research before proposing curfew guidelines for the township; however, he said a curfew would be used as a tool by police officers. Youngsters who violate once would likely be given a warning, and repeat offenders would be arrested.
Other area communities that have curfews include Boardman, Poland Village, Beaver and Springfield townships, New Middletown, Campbell, Lowellville, Struthers, Austintown, Canfield and Youngstown. Coitsville, Craig Beach, North Jackson and Sebring also have curfews. Most policies require residents under 18 to be off the streets by 10 p.m., 11 p.m. or midnight.
"Poland Township is probably the only one that doesn't have it," Massullo said. "The surrounding communities have it, and kids know there's no curfew in Poland Township. Kids know that if they can't hang out in Boardman or Poland Village, they can hang out in Poland Township."