It's late at night ?do you know where your kids are? by M. Jill Karolevitz Vermillion parents who don�t know could get a call from the Vermillion Police Department about their children�s whereabouts, because the city has a curfew ordinance that is enforced. Because of that, Assistant Police Chief Kim Callahan says violations have gone down over the past 10 years.
�Contrary to popular belief, we don�t have a major problem with curfew violations,� he said. �In speaking with officers who work nights, there are some juveniles out and about, but we don�t have large volumes of young people congregating in parking lots or at businesses, compared to larger cities. If we had a problem, we�d see an increase in vandalism and burglaries, but we just don�t have that. It�s just not indicated by the statistics.�
In 1991, the Vermillion Police Department recorded 18 curfew violations. They increased to 19, 39, 40 and 55 in successive years through 1995.
�Then we started to crack down,� Callahan said.
In 1996, the number of violations went back down to 12, followed by eight in 1997, one in 1998 and 10 in 1999. To date this year, there have been only seven.
The ordinance addresses two age groups:
�It shall be unlawful for any minor to loiter, idle, wander, stroll or play in and upon the public streets, highways, roads, alleys, parks, playgrounds or other public grounds, public places and public buildings, places of amusement or entertainment, vacant lots or other unsupervised places between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. of the following day, if such minor is under the age of 15 years, and between the hours of 11 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, inclusive, of each weekday and 6 a.m. on the following morning, and between 12 midnight on Friday and Saturday of each week and 6 a.m. on the following day, if such minor is between the ages of 15 and 17 inclusive; provided, however, that this section shall not apply to a minor accompanied by his or her parent, guardian or other adult person having care or custody of the minor, or if the minor is upon an errand of business directed by his or her parents, guardian or other adult person having the care or custody of the minor.�
�If we see someone who�s obviously too young to be out, or stop them on a traffic violation and find out they are in violation of the curfew, we give them a warning and send them directly home � if it�s just a few minutes past their curfew time,� Callahan said. �If it�s later than that, or if they have been stopped a number of times, we bring them down to the station and call their parents to come pick them up.�
Curfew violators who have prior records, or who are on probation, are turned over to Juvenile Court Service, he added.
�Most parents seem to be aware of the curfew, but we want to remind them about it,� Callahan said. �The bottom line is that it is still the parents� responsibility to make sure they know where their children are and that they are home on time.�