By John W. Goodwin Jr.
Carlos Crues Jr. was gunned down at an East Side party that went on until at least 2 a.m.
There were several other teens attending the party, and city officials say this as well as similar acts of trouble with young people can be avoided if parents would make their juvenile children observe the city’s curfew for minors.
Police have made no arrest in the 17-year-old teen’s slaying, the third this month, so it is unclear if those responsible are also underage. But at least one of the females walking with Crues at the time of the shooting also was a minor, police added.
Police say unsupervised minors out past 11 p.m. can lead to trouble and is against a long-standing city ordinance.
The city ordinance dealing with curfew for minors says: “No child of 17 years and under shall be upon or about the city streets and sidewalks between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. of the following morning, unless accompanied by his parent or guardian.”
The language is easy enough to understand, yet Police Chief Rod Foley said officers often are writing tickets to juveniles out past curfew and transporting them to their homes.
The ordinance also places weight on the shoulders of parents, stating that no parent is permitted to allow their minor child out past 11 p.m. without supervision. Violation of the ordinance is minor misdemeanor, punishable by a fine.
Foley said officers will stop and ask for identification when they suspect an individual is younger than 18. The minor is taken into custody and then delivered to his or her parents with a ticket for the curfew violation.
Foley said manpower is a problem in enforcing the curfew more stringently.
“We do enforce it, not as much as I would like to, but we keep up on it as much as possible,” he said. “This is always on our radar screen, but it’s been sporadic because we don’t have the manpower to do it all the time.”
Foley said he is requesting the hiring of additional officers, which will give the department leeway to aggressively handle matters such as curfew violations more consistently.
Ultimately, Foley said it is the parents’ responsibility to make sure their children adhere to the law and are supervised or home during restricted hours.
“These parents do not think it is a big deal, so we try to cite the parents at the same time to make them responsible for these kids,” he said.
Parents, Foley said, often will tell police their child was thought to be spending the night elsewhere and had no permission to be on the streets past curfew. Parents cited for the violation, regardless of the number of times cited, face a minor misdemeanor.
The juvenile court also attempts to make parents the responsible party in keeping wayward youths indoors after curfew, but there are potential penalties imposed on juveniles who break the law.
Annie Booth, assistant to the court administrator at the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center, said there is a list of potential penalties for not obeying curfew.
“We meet for an intake conference, and they may receive community service or detention,” she said. “We might refer them to counseling or other things. There are endless possibilities with curfew violations.”
Anthony D’Apolito, court administrator at the justice center, said curfew violations are considered “status offenses,” meaning they are crimes that apply to juveniles but not adults. Those crimes, he said, cannot be punished by more than one day of detention.
D’Apolito, like Foley, said the ultimate objective is to make parents responsible for their own children.
“The goal here is to empower the parents and let them handle the problem. Then we check to make sure they are handling the problem or that they can or are willing to handle the problem,” he added.