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Curfew coming soon

BY NICOLE KARLIS | DECEMBER 15, 2009 7:30 AM

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Iowa City youngsters will soon have to abide by a curfew — one not ordered by their parents.

The Iowa City City Council passed its final consideration of the citywide juvenile curfew on Monday evening with a 4-3 vote.

The curfew will go into effect on Dec. 23, said City Clerk Marian Karr.

Councilors voted with little discussion on the issue.

Iowa City Mayor Regenia Bailey said she thinks the councilors have already voiced their main concerns with the ordinance.

Residents first introduced the curfew to city councilors earlier this year, asking them to consider it as a solution to curb violence after a summer filled with juvenile crime.

After deferring the ordinance at their second reading in September because of many concerns from the public, councilors allowed time for residents to come up with their own solutions.

“By lengthening the discussion it provided us with a good opportunity for discussion and deliverance,” Bailey said.

Councilors added an amendment at the Dec. 1 meeting that requires an annual review of any data related to the curfew to monitor its effectiveness.

Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay has said collecting this information might be a challenge for the police department.

Kelsay said because most encounters will be handled “short of a citation,” it will be difficult to keep track.

“We typically don’t collect that information,” he said.

There have been discussions about handing out warning notices as a way to keep track of the information, he said.

The curfew is a tiered system that requires children 13-years-old and under to be indoors by 10 p.m.; 14- and 15-year-olds in by 11 p.m.; 16- and 17-year-olds have until midnight.

City officials said any concerns about the effect it will have on 17-year-old UI students should be dismissed. If they’re out past midnight for academic reasons, such as walking to the Main Library or IMU, then they’re in the clear.

But if the student is breaking the law — for instance, a drinking violation — the responding officer can choose to tack a curfew violation onto the charges, Kelsay said.

But that’s not the primary focus of the curfew, he said.

“It’s a tool to address what appears to be groups of kids, not 17-year-old college students,” Kelsay said.

Several cities that are the home to Big Ten schools have curfews, such as Bloomington, Ind., Madison, Wis., and Champaign, Ill.

“I think that’s an unfounded concern,” Kelsay said. “We’re not going to be pulling people on the Ped Mall to see if they’re 17 or 18.”

According to UI Registrar statistics for this semester, 162 students enrolled at the UI are 17 or younger.

Exemptions to the curfew include political, religious, and work activities.


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