Youngstown Police Chief Rod Foley says the 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for youngsters under 18 is appropriate, but Mayor Charles Sammarone thinks the start time should be earlier. However, Sammarone is willing to give the latest curfew enforcement initiative announced Friday a chance to work.
We agree with the mayor that 11 p.m. is too late for minors to be out of their homes without their parents or guardians, and urge him to keep a close watch over the results of the crackdown on curfew violators. If it becomes clear that enforcement of the policy isn’t making a difference, Sammarone should follow the city of Warren’s lead.
Trumbull County’s largest community has two categories: under 15 years old, and 15 to 18.
In the first category, the weekday curfew is from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.; on weekends, it takes effect at 11 p.m.
In the second category, 15 to 18 year olds are permitted to stay out until 11 p.m. on weekdays, and midnight on weekends.
There is an exception made if there are school functions that last beyond the start of the curfew.
But even with such a strict curfew policy, Warren must come to terms with violations that can be deadly, as the circumstances surrounding the March 10 fatal crash revealed.
Six teenagers — two 14-year-olds, three 15-year-olds and a 19-year-old — were killed in the single vehicle accident. The SUV was driven by the 19-year-old.
The father of one of the victims said the teenagers were coming home from a sleepover at a friend’s house. But the mother of another boy killed said her son and his best friend had lied about staying over at each other’s homes that evening and she believes they went to a party.
The State Highway Patrol says speed was a factor as the SUV veered off Niles-Warren River Road Southeast, struck a guardrail and overturned in a pond. Two teenagers, one 18 and the other 15, got out of the vehicle as water was flowing in. They reached a nearby home and asked for help. Warren emergency crews, including members of the city fire department’s dive team, were on the scene within minutes. But they were too late.
What were the young people doing out so late? Did their parents or guardians know where they were? Did the adults in the house where they were supposed to be spending the night know about the party?
Last week, the 18-year-old who survived the crash, Brian K. Henry II, was indicted on two criminal charges not related to the accident. Both involved illegal drugs.
Fourteen and 15 year olds should not be in the company of 18- and 19-year-olds after dark.
That’s why the crackdown on curfew violations is so important.
In Youngstown, special patrols will enforce the law on the books beginning in mid-May. To ensure that minors are off the streets during curfew hours, the city will use the services of Daybreak Youth Crisis Center on South Avenue and other youth agencies.
Violators will be taken to those centers, where staff will contact parents or guardians.
The campaign, the brainchild of Mayor Sammarone, is called “Do You Know Where Your Children Are?”
Implicit in the title of the program is the role adults must play in making sure that minors aren’t outdoors late at night. As the weather gets warmer, the opportunities for young people to get into trouble increase.
Youngstown officials should make it clear that parents and guardians will be held responsible for persistent violations of curfew.