Village to consider teen curfew

Village officials have drafted a proposed curfew law that, if approved, would make it illegal for an
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Village officials have drafted a proposed curfew law that, if approved, would make it illegal for anyone under 18 to be on public property between 11 p.m. and dawn, with some exceptions.

The law will need to first go through a public hearing process before the Village Board could vote on the matter.

Under the proposed law, it would be a violation for anyone under age 18 “to be or loiter or remain in or upon the public streets, roads, highways, public lots, public parks or other public areas” in the village after 11 p.m.

Some exceptions to the law include anyone under 18 who is accompanied by a parent, who is on the sidewalk immediately outside his or her property or who is traveling directly to or from work.

“A lot of these young kids, really, what are they doing out after 11 at night if they’re 16, 15 years old?” Village Trustee Norman Richardson asked.

Richardson said there have been problems recently with teenagers drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana in public places. He also said there have been some recent reports of late night break-ins.

According to Richardson, village officials used language from various curfew laws to write the current draft.

Anyone under 18 cited under the proposed law would first receive a verbal and written warning from police. After the first offense, anyone found in violation of the law could be sentenced to community service, a fine not to exceed $250 or 15 days in jail.

Parents of minors could also be cited under the law for permitting their children to violate the law or ineffectively controlling their children.

“Do I think it’s a good idea? I really don’t know yet, but I would say I would give it a shot and see what the people want,” Richardson said.

Several other trustees and Mayor James Groff did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Local representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday, although the ACLU has frequently criticized curfews in other communities.

“The new law would infringe on the long-recognized rights of parents to direct the upbringing of their children as they see fit,” the ACLU wrote last month regarding a proposed curfew in East Syracuse.

“Local governments should strive to improve public safety, but not by infringing on the Constitutional rights of youth or passing judgment on parental decision making,” said Barrie Gewanter, director of the Central New York chapter of the ACLU regarding the proposed law in East Syracuse.

Richardson said he would only support the proposed law if he believed that village residents were in favor of it.

“If they don’t want it, I’ll vote against it. If they feel it’s good, we’ll give it a shot,” he said. “I work for them.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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