City discusses youth curfew

Published 8:46 pm Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Bainbridge City Council is considering curfews for minors under the age of 18, which would seek to keep them in school and off the streets late at night.

City Manager Chris Hobby summarized the proposed ordinance at the council’s meeting Tuesday evening.

Under the proposed ordinance, minors would be prohibited from loitering outside between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays and between midnight and 6 p.m. on weekends, unless they are accompanied by a parent/guardian or another adult delegated by a parent/guardian to accompany them.

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The ordinance would prohibit any child who is supposed to be in school from being out in public during school hours; Hobby said that would generally be 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Exceptions to both the daytime and nighttime curfews would include going to work; attending a religious, municipal, school-sponsored activity or organized civic activity; going to or from a medical, dental or optical appointment; or having permission from school administrators to leave the school’s campus.

Home-schooled students would be exempt from the daytime curfew.

Bainbridge Public Safety officers would use their discretion whether or not to take minors in violation of the ordinance into custody.

BPS Director Eric Miller, who spoke before the council, said every attempt would be made to notify the child’s parent, guardian or other immediate relative to come pick them up. The family member would also be given the opportunity to move or legally park any vehicle driven by a minor in violation of the curfew, Miller said.

If caught out during the day, the minor would be taken to school and turned over to school staff, he said.

In the event an officer had to take a minor into temporary custody, they would be kept separately from adult detainees at a BPS station and would generally not be handcuffed or put in a cell, per the ordinance.

In the event a minor’s parents or grandparents could not be reached, BPS would call the Department of Family and Children’s Services for assistance, Miller said. Under state and federal law, minors could only remain in BPS custody for no more than six hours, he said.

Miller said that if the ordinance is passed, he would explain how the curfews will work to all of his officers and would also work closely with the school system on enforcing them.