MASSENA The village is moving toward establishing a nightly curfew for minors.
Police Chief Timmy J. Currier proposed a curfew law at Tuesday nights Board of Trustees meeting. The law would require children under 16 years old to be off the streets from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Its a tool we can use to reduce juvenile crime and juvenile victimization, Mr. Currier said after the meeting.
The village has had a curfew law on its books since 1969, but stopped enforcing it in 1993 because of questions over its constitutionality. Parents, for example, cannot be arrested for having children who violate the curfew if they were unaware the youngster left the house.
There are portions of it that would not hold up in court, he said.
Mr. Currier said the rewritten law addresses the issues the previous one had. Children can carry a signed parental note with them exempting them from the curfew.
We have to protect a parents rights to raise their child, Mr. Currier said.
Penalties for curfew violators include 20 hours of community service for repeat offenders. Parents of children violating the curfew could be charged fines up to $50 for the first violation, $100 for the second and $250 thereafter or serve up to 15 days in jail, perform community service or a combination of the three.
Mr. Currier said the penalties would be a worst-case scenario for curfew violators. In most cases, police would simply use the curfew as a reminder to children to remain indoors at night.
The law also could be useful for parents looking for ways to keep their children in at night, Mr. Currier said.
With this law in place, maybe it gives parents more authority with their children, he said.
Mayor James F. Hidy praised the proposal, and said it could help the village deal with park vandalism and other problems related to juvenile crime.
Here is something near and dear to my heart, Mr. Hidy said. I think this is going to be an excellent tool going forward to deter whats going on in our parks and in our streets.
Now were looking. Were watching, Mr. Hidy said. Hopefully it will get the kids off the streets.
The village board held off on scheduling a public hearing because Trustee Patricia K. Wilson wants to work out additional curfew details before the next meeting. She wondered whether the rules could be tiered, allowing more leeway for older children and potentially starting the curfew later on weekends.
We dont want to penalize kids that arent doing anything wrong, Ms. Wilson said.