VALLEY CENTER, Kan. - In an effort to combat crime, Valley Center is considering a tougher curfew ordinance to keep teenagers off the street overnight.
The proposed ordinance would prohibit those under 18 from being out past 10 p.m. on school nights and 11 p.m. on the weekends. "It can make a big impact," Police Chief Mark Hephner said.
He says it could have a big impact because it's a big change from the current ordinance. The ordinance on the books only applies to kids under the age of 16 and allows them to be out until 11 p.m. every night. "I think it would give us an extra tool to help make the community safer," Hephner said.
Police Chief Mark Hephner says the city has seen about 80 car burglaries, and numerous vandalism cases, during the past two years. Seeing a problem, three Valley Center night patrol officers, Virginia Crice, Kevin Cole, and Greg Jackson, took initiative and did some research into those cases. "(They found) of the folks we caught 80% were under the age of 18," Hephner said.
The officers compiled all of their research, which included how well stricter curfew laws have worked in other cities, and came up with the proposal. The proposal sets the curfew for those age 18 or under at 11 p.m. from July 1st to August 31st, except Saturdays and Sundays when it would be 12:00 a.m.
From September 1st through June 30th, the curfew would be 10:00 p.m. except Fridays and Saturdays when it's 11:00 p.m. There are exceptions including if a minor is accompanied by a parent or returning straight home from a job.
In addition to the change in age and time, the proposed ordinance would increase the fine for those who break curfew from a $5 minimum to $25.
The proposal now goes for a second reading before city council members. They're scheduled to discuss it at their next meeting December 18th.