Westminster resident demands curfew for children

August 23, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

A West Green Street resident urged the Westminster City Council to adopt a curfew last night, citing what he called a "rampage" of children stealing pumpkins and Christmas tree lights, slashing tires, gathering under a street light and riding their bicycles on Main Street.

Residents have debated a curfew before the council since Mayor W. Benjamin Brown proposed it last month.

He suggested that police should pick up children under 16 who are on the streets after midnight and take them home.

If the police officer found the home situation unsatisfactory, he would refer the family to juvenile or social services agencies.

John "Jack" Norris of West Green Street told the council at its meeting last night that juvenile crime problems in his neighborhood began five to 10 years ago with thefts of pumpkins and Christmas tree lights.

He said children "went on a rampage" and slashed tires on several cars.

"I, for one, built a stockade around my house as a result of juvenile delinquency," he said.

Mr. Norris said statistics don't show a rise in crime in his neighborhood because residents hesitate to report minor incidents to police.

He said that on one occasion, a state trooper caught children who had taken bamboo sticks out of a yard and were playing Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtles at 12:30 a.m. The owners of the bamboo sticks refused to prosecute, he said.

Webster Street resident Russell Myers argued that young people bent on committing crimes will not hesitate to violate a curfew law.

"If a crime is being committed, let's focus on the crime," he said.

Mayor Brown had cited a Supreme Court decision allowing a curfew in Dallas to stand in his proposal for a local curfew.

But Westminster isn't Dallas, Mr. Myers said. "Let's not take a big-city solution and put it on a small community," he said.

Union Street resident Sarah Kramer supported a curfew. She said she would prefer to have police bring her 15-year-old daughter home for a curfew violation than, for example, for underage drinking. She added that she is certain her daughter would not violate the liquor law.

Although Mayor Brown has urged adoption of a curfew, no co-sponsor on the council has come forward to formally propose it as an ordinance. There is no schedule for the council to act on the issue.

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