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Kinston youth curfew: Mayor provides exceptions to ordinance amendment

Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 2:52 PM EDT
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KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) - Kinston Mayor Don Hardy is requesting stronger enforcement of a preexisting curfew for youths in the city.

The city says its existing Youth Protection Ordinance, which has been in place for years, imposes a curfew that prevents anyone under 18 unaccompanied by their parents or guardians from being on the streets at night after 11 p.m.

Hardy says his request is that the enforcement is given greater emphasis due to crime in the area.

The mayor is also asking that the city council consider amending the ordinance to change the curfew hours for unaccompanied youths from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.; to 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., essentially bumping the curfew up by two hours.

Further information about the ordinance states that its purpose is to prevent people 17 and younger from improper influences such as gang involvement that occurs after the curfew hour Hardy laid out.

“This proposal is to make sure that our youth is safe, their well-being is safe, that they’re not getting into any trouble that could put their lives in danger and to hold legal guardians responsible for any action that they may take during the restricted hours,” the proposal states.

There are exceptions to the ordinance, as stated by the mayor. They are as follows:

  • The juvenile is accompanied by his or her parent, guardian or other adult having the responsibility for primary care and custody of the juvenile.
  • A juvenile who is in a public place as a result of an emergency and with the knowledge of a parent or authorized adult.
  • A juvenile who is legally employed, for the period thirty (30) minutes before and thirty (30) minutes after work, while taking a direct path to his or her home to or from the place of employment. Juveniles who fall within this exception must carry written proof of employment which includes the hours the employer requires the juvenile to work and a current contact number.
  • A juvenile on a direct path from an adult organized/supervised activity or a place of public entertainment, such as a movie or play, sporting event, or school or church-sponsored event, for a period of thirty (30) minutes before or thirty (30) minutes after said event but prior to 9:00 p.m. The parent must have knowledge of the event.
  • A juvenile on a direct path to or from an event sponsored by an accredited education institution, for a period of thirty (30) minutes before or thirty (30) minutes after said event but prior to 9:00 p.m.
  • A juvenile in a motor vehicle and engaged in interstate travel with the knowledge and permission of a parent or authorized adult.
  • A juvenile who is traveling to or from an activity involving the exercise of first amendment rights of speech, freedom of assembly or freedom of religion. Said travel must be a direct path and must be for a period thirty (30) minutes before or thirty (30) minutes after said event. The parent must have knowledge of the event.
  • A juvenile on the swale or sidewalk abutting the juvenile’s residence or the residence of the next-door neighbor provided that neighbor has not complained to the police department about the juvenile’s presence.

“The thing is to make sure that our students have the opportunity to return back to school rather than to be deceased or in jail,” Hardy said of the ordinance.

Hardy also provided the procedures for enforcement of the rules. The procedures are as follows:

  • If a police officer reasonably believes a juvenile is in a public place in violation of the section, the officer shall notify the juvenile that he or she is in violation of the section and shall require the juvenile to provide his or her name, address, and phone number, and how to contact their parent or guardian. In the absence of any evidence of age, a police officer shall, in the first instance of violation of the section, use his or her best judgement in determining age.
  • The police officer shall issue the juvenile a written warning that the juvenile is in violation of the section and order the juvenile to go home immediately. The chief of police or designee shall send the parent or guardian of the juvenile a written notice of the violation by certified mail with a warning that any subsequent violation will lead to full enforcement of the section, including enforcement or parental responsibility and of applicable penalities.
  • Police procedures shall constantly be refined in the light of experience and may provide that the police officer may deliver to a parent or guardian thereof a juvenile under appropriate circumstances.
    • For example, a juvenile of tender age, near home, whose identity and address may readily be ascertained or are known. Notwithstanding the foregoing, when: (i) a juvenile has received one (1) previous written warning for violation of this section; or (ii) a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the juvenile has engaged in delinquent conduct, the procedure shall then be to take the juvenile to the police station where a parent or guardian shall immediately be notified to come for the juvenile whereupon the parent or guardian and the juvenile shall be questioned. This is intended to permit ascertainment, under constitutional safeguards, of relevant facts, and to centralize responsibility in the person designated there and then on duty for an accurate, effective, fair, impartial and uniform enforcement, and recording, thus, making available experienced personnel and access to information and records.
  • When a parent or guardian, immediately called, has come to take charge of the juvenile, and the appropriate information has been recorded, the juvenile shall be released to the custody of such parent. If the parent cannot be located or fails to take charge of the juvenile, then the juvenile shall be released to the juvenile authorities, except to the extent that in accordance with police regulations, approved in advance by juvenile authorities, the juvenile may temporarily be entrusted to an adult, neighbor or other person who will on behalf of a parent or guardian assume the responsibility of caring for a juvenile pending the availability or arrival of a parent or guardian.
  • For the first violation of the section by an operator of an establishment who permits a juvenile to remain on the premises, a police officer shall issue a written notice of the violation with a warning that any subsequent violation will result in full enforcement of the section, including enforcement of operator responsibility and of applicable penalties.

The mayor also provided the penalties that would be provided. They can be found below:

  • A juvenile who violates any provision of this section is subject to being adjudicated delinquent. The court may, in its discretion, impose any dispositional alternative(s) that are provided in the North Carolina Juvenile Code for any juvenile who is delinquent.
  • Any person other than a juvenile who violates this section shall be subject to a civil penalty of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for the first offense and for each subsequent offense the fine shall increase by an additional fifty dollars ($50.00). This civil penalty shall be recovered by the City of Kinston and shall be paid with seventy-two (72) hours from the receipt of a citation of a violation.
  • Any person other than a juvenile who receives four (4) or more citations for violation of this section may be guilty of a misdemeanor and may be subject to a fine of one hundred dollars ($100.00) for the first offense, and for each subsequent offense the fine shall be increased by an additional fifty dollars ($50.00). For example, for the second offense the fine shall be one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00), for the third offense, two hundred dollars ($200.00), and imprisonment in the discretion of the court in accordance with G.S. 14-4.

WITN is told that “heightened enforcement” of the existing ordinance will begin immediately and a public education period, as well as the requested amendment, will be part of the June 7th council meeting agenda for consideration. If approved, the amendment will take effect immediately.

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