(August 7, 2005) -- LBReport.com has learned that in response to a number of violent crimes committed by or involving juveniles, LBPD has begun serious enforcement of LB's nighttime juvenile curfew ordinance (pertinent text below).
For the past two weeks, LB police officers have been issuing citations -- requiring a court appearance -- to those under 18 who appear to be in violation of LB's nighttime juvenile curfew ordinance (which is actually an "anti-loitering" ordinance) in effect from 10:00 p.m. to 6 a.m. seven days a week (details and exceptions below).
After receiving the written citation, the young person is transported to WLB's Silverado Park at which time their parents or guardians are notified and advised to come get them.
LBPD Public Information Officer Israel Ramirez says nighttime curfew enforcement has resulted in 300 citations in July alone [i.e. average about ten per night].
LBPD's action follows Council activity on the curfew issue in 2004.
In August 2004, Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal agendized an item, noting that the "summer season seems to correlate with the increase in graffiti and crimes committed by those under 18 years of age. Our downtown area, in particular, may need additional help in communicating to the public that the City of Long Beach has a legally enforced curfew in place." Councilwoman Lowenthal requested that the City Manager provide a report outlining LB's existing policies on curfew enforcement as well as whether a need exists for more widespread posting of curfew signs. Ccouncilwoman Lowenthal also referred the matter to the Council's Public Safety Committee for its review.
On November 22, 2004 LBPD Chief Anthony Batts advised the Public Safety Committee by memo that there was at that time no signage at LB's popular entertainment spots (e.g. CityPlace, the Pike, Towne Center, Pine Ave.) but noted "signage is not required in order to enforce the
curfew law. Youth Services Division Detectives periodically conduct nighttime loitering sweeps as a means to enforce the curfew laws currently in the Long Beach Municipal Code."
Chief Batts added that Huntington Beach "has a similar downtown entertainment district
where curfew signs are posted. Staff reviewed their experience and found that a noticeable decrease in juvenile loitering was observed directly following the posting of signs, but loitering steadily increased after a period of time."
The Chief concluded that "[c]ontinued development of the downtown Long Beach area and the potential for more juvenile interest could increase the instances of nighttime loitering and criminal activity by juveniles. Posted curfew signs could help to decrease such occurrences and increase public awareness of the law. In an effort to further increase public awareness, the Police Department will launch a citywide education campaign" and included recommended text for signage warning against loitering.
Officer Ramirez told LBReport.com that LBPD is, in fact, preparing fliers for distribution via Neighborhood Watch, plus public service announcements to remind juveniles (and adults) of the curfew...along with signage warning "No Loitering" for posting in areas where young people might congregate.
In addition to deterring late night juvenile mischief, PIO Ramirez says the curfew alerts parents to their kids' after hour actions and helps protects juveniles who might otherwise become victims of violent crime. "We pick them up and make sure they're in a safe place," he said.
The ticket and the mandated court appearance are, at minimum, an attention-getter, requiring the young person and a parent/guardian to trek to the downtown LB courthouse. We're told judges often direct some kind of community service or adult-juvenile education classes or the like.
And yes, there's a similar LB juvenile daytime curfew ordinance on the books (a similar "anti-loitering" law) applicable to those under 18 subject to compulsory education between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
From LB nighttime juvenile curfew ordinance:
9.58.010 Prohibition against juvenile being in public place between the hours of ten p.m. until six a.m. the following day.
A. Curfew. It is unlawful for any minor under the age of eighteen years to remain in or upon any "public place", as defined in Section 9.02.090, between the hours of ten p.m. until six a.m. the following day.
B. Exceptions. The provisions of Subsection 9.58.010.A shall not apply when:
1. The minor is accompanied by his or her parent, guardian or other adult person having the care and custody of the minor;
2. The minor is on an errand at the direction of the minor's parent or guardian, without any detour or stop;
3. The minor is in a motor vehicle involved in interstate travel;
4. The minor is engaged in an employment activity, or going to or returning home from an employment activity, without any detour or stop;
5. The minor is involved in an emergency requiring immediate action to prevent serious bodily injury or loss of life;
6. The minor is on the sidewalk abutting the minor's residence;
7. The minor is attending an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by the City, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor, or the minor is going to or returning home from, without any detour or stop, an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by the City, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor;
8. The minor is exercising First Amendment rights protected by the United States Constitution;
9. The minor is emancipated pursuant to law.
C. Enforcement. Before taking any enforcement action under this Section, a police officer shall ask the apparent offender's age and reason for being in the public place. The officer shall not issue a citation or make an arrest under this Section unless the officer reasonably believes that an offense has occurred and that, based on any response and other circumstances, no exception under Subsection 9.58.010.B is present. (Ord. C-7488 § 1, 1997: Ord. C-6503 § 1, 1988: Ord. C-5938 § 1, 1983).