Gary police set to enforce curfew law
by Lori Caldwell email@example.com April 14, 2012 11:12PM
Updated: May 16, 2012 8:22AM
GARY — Teens who roam the streets after curfew could find themselves riding in a squad car, starting Sunday.
City officials announced the Gary Police Department will begin enforcing the curfew at 10 p.m. Sunday.
“If an officer sees a teenager, they will be stopped and taken home,” police spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King said Friday.
If no one is home, or the teen is too far out of the officer’s assigned district, then it’s a trip to the police station to wait for a parent or guardian, King said.
Either way, the responsible adult will get a citation that will include a fine.
The amount of the fine will be determined by Gary City Court judges.
There are exceptions to the restrictions. Teens with proof of employment can go to and from the job after hours. School and church activities are also exempt from the city’s curfew.
Several years ago, Indiana’s curfew laws were struck down after the ACLU challenged the language.
“Now there is a curfew law,” Ken Falk, legal director for the ACLU of Indiana, said last week. “The exception is, you can’t be cited until the police officer determines you don’t have a valid defense.”
In addition to employment and school or church functions, Indiana law allows teens to be out if they have a note from their parents, with the current date on it, stating they have parental permission.
“The state requires it in writing,” Falk stressed.
However, if police believe the teen is committing a separate offense, such as loitering or trespassing, the youth can be taken into custody.
The city ordinance prohibits anyone 17 years old or younger who is not accompanied by an adult to be out between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the hours are midnight to 5 a.m.
From June 15 to Aug. 31, the weekday hours are 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
King said that if police can’t locate parents, the teens will be taken to Alternative House until they are claimed.
Repeat offenders could face increased fines or criminal charges.
Reach reporter Lori Caldwell at 648-3258.