Warning issued to violators of curfew

By David Skolnick



With the school year coming to an end, police plan to crack down on minors — and their parents and guardians — for those violating the city’s curfew law.

Police Chief Rod Foley told city council’s safety committee members Thursday that he supports legislation, sponsored by Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th, to increase the fines for those who break the city curfew.

“We also want to make sure the parents are held responsible,” Foley said.

The city law makes it a minor misdemeanor for children 17 years old and younger to be on streets and sidewalks between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. The parents and guardians of those youths also can be charged.

The first offense would remain a minor misdemeanor under legislation sponsored by Swierz.

The second offense would also be a minor misdemeanor, but the mandatory fine would be $150. A typical fine currently is $25 to $50.

The third and subsequent offenses would be a fourth-degree misdemeanor, with violators facing a fine of up to $250.

“After three times, you’re going to get hit heavy,” Swierz said.

The curfew doesn’t apply to minors accompanied by their parent, guardian or adult made responsible for the child by a parent or guardian as well as to children who are outside because of an emergency or “legitimate business.”

Council is expected to consider the changes at its next meeting June 6.

Police officers haven’t been issuing enough citations to kids who break the city curfew, and “very seldom” charge parents or guardians, Foley said. But that’s going to change, he said.

“We don’t spend enough time with curfews,” Foley said. “We want our guys focusing on it between calls. We don’t want to see large groups of children. We see them in the summer going from one house party to another and fighting.”

That can escalate to kids with guns “shooting off a couple of rounds,” and other acts of violence, he said.

When asked if a person convicted of breaking the city curfew can’t afford the fine, Foley said, “We’ll set up a payment plan.”

Also Thursday, Foley said he expects by autumn to install surveillance cameras to monitor and deter criminal activity on West Federal Street and on the South Side, around Market Street and Auburndale Avenue.

The video cameras would be monitored at the police station. “It gives you a sense of security and it deters crime,” Foley said.

The safety committee also discussed installing traffic cameras in school zones that would fine motorists breaking speeding and other vehicular laws.

The plan, long discussed by city officials, is inching its way toward reality.

The city is advertising for vendors to install the traffic cameras with a deadline of next Thursday for proposals, said Anthony Donofrio, deputy law director.

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