Bainbridge council adopts youth curfews

Published 7:46 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In two months’ time, children and youth who go out in public while school is in session, or loiter late at night, might find themselves talking with a police officer.

That’s because the Bainbridge City Council has unanimously approved two curfews for kids under age 18, seeking them to keep them in school and off the streets late at night. The curfews will take effect in 60 days, to give Bainbridge Public Safety a chance to work through any logisitical issues. BPS Director Eric Miller said he also plans to advertise the coming curfews to the public, and work with school staff on how to best enforce the daytime ordinance.

Under the new rules, 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 new rules also prohibit any child who is supposed to be in school from being out in public during their school’s operating hours.

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

At a previous City Council meeting, Miller 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.

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 found in violation of the curfews can remain in BPS custody for no more than six hours.

Miller said similar curfews were in place in the Albion, Mich., community where he served as Public Safety director before coming to Bainbridge.

“Generally, you will see more middle school and high school freshmen and sophomores [who violate the curfews],” Miller said. “Most of the students who can’t drive and are out of school, you will find they have not been attending school regularly. We can call the parents to come get them and either take them home or to school, or turn them over to school staff ourselves.”