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What's too late for kids?
by Mollee Francisco
Feb 23, 2012 | 4241 views | 1 1 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Angling to get his citizenship merit badge, Kyle Simon, of Boy Scout Trip 337, stood before the Victoria City Council on Jan. 9 and asked why the city’s curfew ordinance didn’t match up with that of Carver County.

At the time, the council was considering a repeal of its curfew law (which restricted minors under 17 years of age from being on public property after 11 p.m.) to fall in line with the county’s more complex ordinance.

The Chanhassen High School student and Victoria resident said that he wasn’t personally affected by the curfew ordinance, but decided to take up the issue that has vexed some of his fellow classmates.

“For Boy Scouts we had to ask a question to Mayor Thun of Victoria,” he explained in an e-mail. “As I was thinking about what to choose, I thought about my classmates and their questions and that was one that was brought up.”

In the end, the Victoria council voted unanimously to rescind the city’s curfew ordinance, leaving Chaska as the only city in Carver County with a curfew law on the books that differs from that of the rest of the county.

LAW

Across Carver County, minors under the age of 12 are expected to be home by 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Children ages 12 to 14 get an hour later while those 15 to 17 get two additional hours. There are exceptions to the rule that generally deal with minors returning from work or from school activities.

Mike Wentzell, chief deputy for the Carver County Attorney’s Office, said the county’s curfew law has been on the books since February 1, 1996. Its purpose is two-fold: “to deter juvenile criminal activities and to protect juveniles from becoming victims of a crime,” noted Wentzell.

“It is important and the Sheriff’s Office and our office take it seriously,” he continued. “There is a purpose behind it.”

Simon understands the point of the curfew law. “I think they can make a difference as they can keep some sense of order,” he said.

“Nothing good can happen to kids after curfew,” added Kevin Cedergren, an attorney in the county’s juvenile division.

VIOLATIONS

Curfew violations don’t constitute a huge amount of work for the Carver County Attorney’s Office. In many cases, a fine is simply paid at Court Administration.

First violations are subject to a $50 fine while subsequent violations trigger a $100 fine. Cedergren said that if a pattern of curfew violations develop, they do consider referring the case to social services.

“We don’t spend much court time on them,” said Cedergren of curfew cases. “If we do, they’re tacked on to charges of disorderly conduct or minor consumption, etc. I don’t ever recall having a trial.”

For the most part, curfew cases are pretty black and white, said Cedergren. “Either they were [out past curfew] or they weren’t,” he said.

CHASKA

Simon said he is satisfied now that Victoria has adopted the county’s curfew ordinance. But will Chaska follow suit? Not likely, according to Chaska Police Chief Scott Knight. “No desire here to change,” he wrote in an e-mail.

In Chaska, the curfew ordinance is a simplified version of what the county has. For minors aged 15 and younger, curfew is 10 p.m., for 16 and 17-year-olds, it’s midnight.

Over a 25-month period, from January 2010 to February 2012, the Chaska Police issued 136 warnings or citations for violations of curfew. (The Carver County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to requests for curfew statistics.)

Cedergren said that having different curfew ordinances in the county hasn’t presented a problem to his office thus far. “We support and honor [Chaska’s curfew ordinance] even though I think it would be better if they were all the same,” he said.
Comments
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anonymous
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February 25, 2012
No desire to change because the Chief is the man. LOL
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