Police issue first curfew citation

BY JORDAN FRIES | MARCH 12, 2010 7:30 AM

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Roughly three months after the Iowa City City Council implemented a curfew ordinance, Iowa City police issued the first $50 citation for a violation.

Police Sgt. Denise Brotherton said an Iowa City patrol officer was at Firewater bar, 347 S. Gilbert St., dealing with an intoxicated individual at roughly 1 a.m.

He noticed an unrelated person and recognized him as a 16-year-old juvenile.

The teen was cited for the curfew violation and charged with underage possession of tobacco and presence in a bar after hours.

The three-tiered curfew system went into effect Dec. 23, 2009, but police had said they wouldn’t begin issuing citations until March 1. The ordinance prohibits 16- and 17-year-olds from roaming Iowa City’s streets between the hours of midnight to 5 a.m. Those 14 and 15 have a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., and those 13 and under have one from 10 p.m. to 5 am.

Underage teens are exempt from the curfew if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian, traveling to or from work or school (one-hour leeway) or participating in religious or political activity (one-hour leeway). Such teens are also exempt if they are traveling from one state to another through Iowa City or seeking help during an emergency involving the life of or serious to a responsible adult.

Even before March 1, officers held the right to issue a citation if they thought it was appropriate, though authorities only handed out verbal warnings, Brotherton said.

The number of warnings issued so far wasn’t available Thursday evening.

City Councilor Mike Wright, who supported the ordinance in December, said that despite his not having received numbers on the number of warnings given, he believes the curfew is necessary and effective.

“And I really can’t think of a compelling reason for people under the age of 18 to be out that late,” Wright said. “Especially out that late in a bar.”

Sue Freeman, the director of the Broadway Center and a member of the Safe Neighborhoods Coalition, said the curfew is something the community wants.

“Everyone wants to be safe, and the curfew helps the community feel safer,” she said.

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